Travel was easy this year. Delta let me check in and check my big suitcase at the curb, and TSA PreCheck sped me through security in record time. The flight, albeit in coach, was comfortable. There was a SNAFU at Charles-DeGaulle airport, but the taxi was efficient so I was still in time for my Airbnb check-in. It was the same apartment we loved last year, just as comfortable and now entirely familiar. Two hours later Lisa and Aya arrived, then the following morning my first cousin Jackie. The first part of this trip, like last year, is a household of four cousins, in three generations.
We’ve visited with Ali several times and caught up with other old friends. While the stay thus far has seemed somewhat sedentary I’ve clocked 6 miles a day of walking, so not far off my average Paris pace of 7 miles.
One remarkable feature of this visit is that I had absolutely no jet lag. My flight left Boston at 8 pm and arrived at 8 am local time, after less than seven hours in the air. My strategy was to stay awake through the flight, and also the next day until at least 8 pm; although in fact I made it to 10 pm. At that point I was exhausted, had a lovely sleep, and woke up at 8 am local time ready to start my day. Since then my internal clock has simply been on Paris time.
Our apartment is in the 15ème arrondissement, in the south-west corner of Paris. The neighborhood is 100% Parisian except it lacks one thing: tourists. I have not seen a single person on the streets or in stores who looks like a foreigner. I have been treated cordially, but I’m sure my otherness is noted by all. For me, however, the absence of (other) tourists is delightful and relaxing.
As I’ve often noted, my petit séjours started as adventures but have now become a happy part of my regular life. This stay in particular, with the same people in the same apartment as last year, is more theme than variation. Nevertheless, there are some happy differences: Jackie is in much better spirits than last year. Aya also seems much happier at five years old than she did last year at four. (One secret Lisa shared with me is that my French accent is painful to her ears, so this year I’ve mostly stuck with English.) Even Ali seems to be doing well despite the health issues he is facing.
This part of the trip is family oriented, so I would normally defer seeing my gay friends until later in the stay, apart from mutual friends like Zhizhong. I made an exception, however, for a young man who I had met at the very end of my visit last year, who was leaving for the summer on May 1. We got together the night before last and had a great conversation during a walk around the neighborhood and dinner at a nice local restaurant amusingly called Le Petit Gorille. It turned out that he was especially keen to see me again because I had paid for dinner last time and he wanted to return the favor by paying this time. I was happy to accept!