The midpoint of my stay is a good time to look at how the trip has been, and what my goals are for my remaining time here.
The dominant theme of the trip has been — and with the arrival of my nephew next weekend will continue to be — family. While this is very different from prior years, I’ve come to realize, as I explored in my previous post, that time with family and friends, while it dilutes my engagement with the place, can itself be every bit as rewarding as being a solitary flâneur.
The difference shouldn’t be overemphasized, since spending time with friends has always been a facet of my petits séjours. For example, I’ve caught up with Bob Seeman, almost every year.
Bob and I have known each other for around twenty years, while I’ve known my cousin Jackie since we were children. That makes a difference, but in both cases we’ve had a chance to become intimate friends over a substantial portion of a lifetime. The main difference is that Jackie and I shared an apartment for ten days (and have gotten together several times since), while I normally just catch up with Bob for a meal. That pattern isn’t fundamentally different from prior years, though, since I’ve always had friends staying with me for around a week. It just happens this year that my housemates will mostly be family.
Food has been an important and satisfactory part of the trip, as always. I’ve posted “food porn” from some of my fancier meals — and there’s more to come from Strasbourg — but I’ve also enjoyed more modest meals, either at home with my cousins in the 15ème, or at familiar local restaurants in the 2ème. The dishes shown below are from places just a few doors down on my street, and there are a dozen comparable options within a couple of blocks.
The closest thing to an art museum I’ve been to in Paris was the astounding au dela de les limites exhibition, but I’ve visited several galleries and appreciated lots of street art. One resolution is to take in even more art in the latter part of my stay.
The gallerist at Galerie Jacques Lévy (very probably the eponymous owner) refused permission for me to post pics, but I invite you to take a look at the works of Olivier Marty currently on view there.
The weather was terrible the day I arrived, then got steadily better over the ten days I spent in the 15ème. About the time I moved to my own place it got wet and cold again and stayed that way for the first week. Last weekend was quite nice in Strasbourg but all afternoon today there have been thunderstorms (with hail!). Update: I enjoyed the dramatic hailstorm from the comfort and safety of my apartment, but I had no idea that elsewhere in the city there was flooding and dense accumulations of hailstones on the streets!
My French is pretty much stalled, but I nevertheless enjoy deciphering cultural references and picking up on jeux de mots.
This poster in the métro is a veritable mine of up-to-the-minute cultural information. I can more or less parse out most of the links, but I’m sure I’m missing many funny references.
I didn’t walk quite as much as usual during the first part of the month, in part because you simply can’t move that fast when you’re traveling with a four-year-old (even when she’s on a scooter). But Zhizhong and I walked all over Strasbourg, so when that’s factored in I’m now right at my usual Paris average of seven miles a day.
Alcohol has always been a substantial part of my Paris stays, but this year my consumption has been a lot less than usual. Jackie, Zhizhong and “Theseus” don’t drink at all, and as a mother of a young child Lisa now drinks even more moderately than before. I’ve usually managed a glass of wine or beer with dinner, and sometimes found an excuse for an extra drink, but have only once or twice exceeded the approved level of two drinks a day (which was occasionally exceeded many times over in prior years). It’s still possible that I may fall under the influence of hard-drinking family or friends, but so far I’ve been surprisingly sober.
I’ve often met guys on “social media” apps during my stays here. Two years ago, the last time I was here, Omar made an outstanding contribution to my visit. This year I’ve only met one guy, who I’ll call Theseus. He’s a 22-year-old student, of Chinese ethnicity, very fit and cute. He’s been my dining companion on several occasions where the blog has mentioned a “we” without a name. He’s forbidden me to post his photo or further information, and this is only one of several mismatches between our values and goals. He’s been an attractive and mostly agreeable companion on several occasions, despite our really irreconcilable differences.
Overall I’ve had a good time this year. Both apartments have been wonderful, despite the minor issues with my current place. The shift from adventure to coziness has continued, but there have been a few peak experiences and many rich and intimate conversations.
June 11, when I leave, will be my earliest departure since the first year, 2010, when I stayed for April and May. So many cool things are scheduled for the remainder of June that I looked into extending my stay another two weeks. Changing my Delta/Air France ticket would be punishingly expensive but abandoning that reservation and coming home on a one-way Norwegian ticket would be reasonable. My current host would let me extend at the discounted monthly rate until June 20, but she has other guests then so I would have to get another place for the last week. Ultimately, however, responsibilities and opportunities back home caused me to stick with the original schedule. Another year, however, I will stay at least until afterla fête de la musiqueon June 21, and perhaps through Paris gay pride, this year on June 30.
Mot du jour: beue. Not in Larousse, but Google shows it as patois picard for boue, i.e. mud.
Bonus Mot du jour: grêle, hail.