Thursday, November 21, 2013

Blonde Baby About Town

The very same day that my College Friend left Paris, my Father and Step-Mother arrived. While I am not one to look down on welcome visitors, I will say that back-to-back friends and family resulted in pure exhaustion. That combined with the fact that Paris spontaneously became bitterly cold and the sad reality that I often turn into a bratty 16-year-old for no discernible reason when around my Dad, and I somehow wonder how we all made it through the next several days. Little does my dear old Daddy know, however, that I consider him a rock that I really don't know what I would ever do without...

One of the best things about my Father and Step-Mother is that they are epic travelers and game for almost anything. En route to Paris, they stopped in Iceland and Amsterdam before meeting me in France. Though I couldn't meet them until late evening the day that they arrived, I was able to spend most of the following day running around Paris with them after class. I once again returned to the awesome falafel spot in the Marais, the fancy eclair shop, and a beautiful little jewelry and accessory store that I knew my Step-Mother would like. We hit up some of the normal spots such as Notre Dame and Saint-Michel, and after a late afternoon café, I left them to go teach a few students for the evening.

The next morning, though I intended to go to class, I woke up early only to accidentally spill water on my already falling apart laptop. After freaking out momentarily, I whisked it away to an Apple store near Opéra, and was incredibly relieved that it was not irreparably damaged... Well, any worse than it already had been... Despite the chilly air, I met the parents for a self-guided "walking tour" through Saint-Michel and into the Latin Quarter. For the first time, I actually ventured into some unknown territory. A charming garden with picturesque views across from Notre Dame, Rue du Chat-qui-Pêche (which means "street of the fishing cat" and is said to be the narrowest street in Paris), St-Séverin, the Sorbonne, and the Pantheon. Despite the cold and my involuntary disgruntled reaction to my Father's self-guided tours, it really was a lovely walk. After I taught a few more students in the evening, I met them for a wonderful dinner of traditional crêpes at La Crêperie Josselin near Montparnasse. We of course ended the evening with a flaming crêpe tasting fantastically of rum that had not fully been burned off and stuffed with chocolate and bananas.

Saturday was the best day by far, in my opinion. Though unfathomably cold, we spent the afternoon doing two touristy things. Number one, a visit to Père Lachaise, the famous cemetery housing the likes of Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde. I visited this landmark over ten years ago when my College Friend and I came to Paris. It's actually quite beautiful, with stunning architecture, and a pervading feeling of historic tales and deep memories. Ten years ago, one of the best traditions was to kiss Oscar Wilde's tombstone with lipstick, leaving the stain of love and admiration for eternity. Tragically, now there is a large plastic covering around his grave with a sign saying that the cost of cleaning belongs exclusively to the family, and to please respect the grave. I felt a little sad at this sentiment because while I of course never knew Mr. Wilde personally, I feel quite certain he would revel in the kisses of the past and future. 
Happily, some devoted fans had recently climbed or flown or simply spirited their way over the plastic shield and a couple of kisses remained in homage.

After the nostalgia and sadness of a serene cemetery, we went to the Champs-Élysées where the Christmas market was finally open. A market like many others, there is all manner of terrible food, random nicknacks, and cheesy carnival games. The best part, however, is that unlike New York City, you are allowed to walk around with a cup of hot wine, warming my fingers and spirit as we wandered through the stalls. I also had a lovely little snack, made of marshmallow on a bed of waffle and dipped in chocolate in a variety of flavors. Mine was mint and it was heavenly. Oh! And there were scary scary animatronics for reasons I have yet to comprehend on any level. At long last, we made our way to a typical French restaurant I had chosen for dinner. Unfortunately, they were booked on a Saturday night, so we used my handy little smartphone to randomly choose something in not too far walking distance, since the cold was now becoming a bit intolerable. We found ourselves on Île Saint-Louis, where we indulged in more wine, steak for me, sausages for my Step-Mother, some sort of cassoulet for my Dad, and a shared chocolate mousse for dessert. By this point, I was admittedly quite tipsy and feeling much more homesick at the idea of them leaving the next morning than I wanted to let on. I did, however, guilt them into a final drink at another café across the street, resulting in several gossipy stories that I will not dishonor them by relaying. However, valuable lesson learned? Getting the parents drunk provides invaluable information that can be used as leverage in future ; )

A child of four, I am not the oldest nor the youngest, though being the oldest girl and having had some unfortunate health issues when I was young allows me an interesting position in the sibling rank. That, and the fact that I am notoriously narcissistic and when expected to behave as a responsible adult, my general response is that "I am just a child". I have also taken to referring to myself as "Blonde Baby" when signing emails or notes, so as to casually reiterate how adorable and irreplaceable I am. That being said, in my moments of less irrational childlike behavior, I am reminded of how lucky I am to have parents and step-parents who do nothing but love and support me in all of my crazy ramblings.

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