Meandering Paris

I found my old Plan de Paris in the garage this weekend. The size of a pocket bible. Something about the energy of this book has made me keep it all these years. Or maybe it’s just the sheer magnificence of how it’s organized that makes me hold onto it. Or maybe I just don’t want to let go of that part of my youth, the first time I escaped my childhood and ventured beyond California, alone.

I was a shy child, afraid to go into a store alone, then in my teens, afraid to get gas alone, eat alone, do anything alone. But I forced myself, at 18, to go to Paris. Alone. A city I’d always wanted to visit, since I was ten years old. I don’t know why. It was just a place I had to go. I stayed for six months the first time, rented a room in the 8th district from a stage actor. He was a Buddhist. I could hear him chant each night in his room. There was something soothing about his nightly ritual.

I stayed for a month the second time before I was lured back to New York by a boyfriend who proposed marriage.

I stayed for a year the third time. I was 23. It was the third time I treasure the most. When I lived in the same building as James Joyce once had. In Odeon. Near the Shakespeare & Company bookstore. I spent a lot of time in that bookstore. And the open markets. And walking along the Seine. I think I could wander the streets of Paris for an eternity. All I’d need is a journal, a pencil, and my Plan de Paris.

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