When the evenings get long, like they are now, and the desire for slow alfresco dinners becomes overwhelming I find myself thinking about Paris in the summer. Due to its latitude, or perhaps some kind of divine stroke of light by the ghosts of great artists, Paris in the summer months stays light until well after ten in the evening. That extended day means that cafe life should be boisterous, even Spain-like, as the day approaches tomorrow. But that is the thing about Paris in the summer - it isn't. Summer is Paris is when Parisians go home to visit family or head to the South of France for holiday. Those well lit evenings at the cafe are quite, at least as quiet as Paris gets.
I have a trunk of memories from my two summers spent in Paris, sitting outside enjoying a wonderfully slow meal and soaking in the city. Recently I have found myself dipping into that trunk and rummaging around. That was the same summer that got my first digital camera and though I did not realize it at the time, when I fell in love with capturing images. I had a chance to upload some of the rare, nay, lucky shots from that summer and this felt like the right time to share them. This snapshot, and that is all it was ever intended to be, of Notre Dame is like a string around my finger, a reminder. The night before I was to fly home after that first summer I checked into a hotel near the airport. There was that feeling that any traveler will relate to of needing to be home but not being ready to leave. I took the train back into Paris for one last meal and stroll around some favorite spots. To this day, I cannot recall where, let alone what I ate (for those who know me that may come a shocker). But, I do recall taking this picture as vividly as if I were there now. I took a walk that I came to know like my own street in Richmond; through the Latin quarter, around St. Germain (my adopted arrondissement) and across the Pont Neuf to the Ile-de-la-cite. When I paused and rested my camera on the stone railing I made a promise that if I ever forgot that moment, that feeling then I would board a plane to Paris right away.
And I have do so, several times since that moment. It is a promise I continue to make to myself every time I find that trunk of memories even the slightest bit dusty.
Recently, I was also reminded of David Sedaris' gut busting recount of overhearing an American couple mistake him for a French pickpocket. I have you have not heard David Sedaris on NPR, please take a listen. Unfortunately it requires Real Player, and for that I am truly sorry.