Down and Out in Paris
Not really … George Orwell beat me to that title. Besides, I’m not the young impoverished writer he was 80 years ago. So how should I call my Paris? I don’t know, I’m still working on it. There are of course many differences in my Paris compared to Paris past … Hemingway no longer lives here, or Hadley, Gertrude Stein, Alice, Sylvia Beech, Picasso or the flapping Fitzgeralds.
It’s a pity, I missed their party by nearly a century. Wow, I can’t believe I just said that … It’s almost 100 years since the Lost Generation owned Paris. They might not have had much money, but unlike Orwell they were rich. You still you need both hands to count the number of walking tours on the Left Bank following “Hemingway’s Footsteps”. Talk about staying power … eat your heart out Monet and Picasso, Sartre and Genet.
But I’ve decided this trip not to follow the yellow brick road that leads to the Deux Maggot or Cafe Flore, though I will pay homage with a trip to Shakespeare and Company. And how I wish I could drop by a soiree at Gertrude Stein’s not only to meet the people but to feast on the art stretching floor to ceiling on her walls …
Hemingway, Sartre, Stein, Camus didn’t follow the footsteps of others. They may have in their youth, in their mind, sat at the feet of others, but then they got up and walked their own way… made their own path, creating and sharing their own vision.
I am trying to make Paris my own this trip, not following the Paris of others. Not seeing it through their eyes, but wanting to discover it myself. Sure I’m doing what millions have done for centuries, walking the banks of the Seine, sitting in the glow and in the shadow of Notre Dame, lounging in Luxembourg Gardens, people gazing in a cafe, listening to the music all around. But I’m doing it my way and at my pace, for my own reasons, not because they’re listed in a guide book.
I’m looking up but I’m also looking around, seeing Paris in each of the senses .. how does it smell, what do I feel, what do I see and hear. How does Paris taste? You tell me … either from your own experience or from that special place within that holds a dream, the holds imagination.