Touchstone

renoir

Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette by Auguste Renoir

I have been back home one month today.  Rich Paris memories are still being savored.  London has recovered from a somewhat critical review in comparison to the City of Light…unfair I guess.  My global citizenship has been enriched and the proof is stamped in my passport. 

I have a deepening appreciation for the French culture. Their self-direction and joie de vivre (joy for life) inspires meI think I better understand London’s struggle to hold on to their proper, somewhat stodgy traditions while being inundated with immigrants from places built in sand.

My mind has been expanded, and I like knowing it won’t ever return to its original dimensions. Plus, smack in the middle of being amazed, inspired, renewed, and exalted, I accidentally learned more about myself.

Since my return to reality (something similar to the thud of Dorothy’s spinning house landing on the Wicked Witch of the East), I have longed to share the details and discoveries of this adventure with Mom.  Her absence feels once again like the big, monstrous void.

Mom was my touchstone. She knew where I came from. After all, Cove is a place too small to even be called a hamlet.  But she also understood how far away your dreams can take you, and how brave you have to be to follow them.  I think she would be proud of me.  I know she shared some of my longing to see more of the world.

In 2008, after my first trip to Paris, it was Mom who wanted to hear every detail.  Even though her health struggles were only beginning, I saw them as temporary, and promised her that once she was feeling better, we would go back….together.  I knew that once she saw Paris, she would fall in love as I did.

  

This trip, standing at the Musee d’Orsay admiring the paintings of Renoir that Mom loved so much (like the one above), I ached for her to be there beside me and I fought back tears for all I know will never be. 

It is too late to share the world with her now.  The stories I saved to tell only her will have to remain tucked away in my heart.  I carry her dreams though and her unfulfilled wanderlust…

I believe that in every new place I find myself, part of Mom is there with me.

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The Love Lock and Au Revoir

Pont des Art bridge and the view
People from all over the world come to the Pont des Art bridge to leave their love lock, and symbolically, a little piece of themselves in Paris.  For pedestrians only, the bridge links the Institut de France and the central square of the Louvre.  On one side, you see Notre Dame rising from its own little island on the Seine.  From the other, you see the top of the Eiffel tower…..perfect. 
Locks Everywhere
Ron and I had long planned to bring our own lock here to add to this unique display.  We chose to come here yesterday (our last) and say goodbye to the city we love.  
We sent off weeks ago to order our lock and have it engraved.  My sister April then used her artistic talents to add angel’s wings to each side, making it even more personal.
OUR lock in its new home
To insure our two keys would sink to the bottom of the river, we attached them to a small silk pouch carrying three polished rocks lovingly gathered at the beach during an unforgettable trip to the Oregon coast.  My Dad, Aunt Judy and Uncle Kay will understand why.
After another memorable visit to surely one of the world’s most picturesque and lively cities, we have hopefully become a bit more French.   We learned to slow down to soak in the beauty and history that surrounded us.  
We lingered over drinks and long meals, savoring the wine and food prepared with pride and perfection.  We took in the art at Musee d’Orsay (their logo is just M’O…love that) of Renoir, Van Gogh and Monet.  We walked for miles…to neighborhoods all over the city, and rode the Metro and RER trains like pros.  
Ron on our balcony at the hotel
We spoke French whenever we met someone new, appreciating that the French don’t do anything until proper greetings have been exchanged.  
And we couldn’t have custom-ordered more beautiful spring weather in which to enjoy it all…. cloudless sunny days and sparkling cool nights.

A few months ago, our French teacher George told us that after living in Paris for over 10 years, his children (several who were born there) live in a constant state of homesickness.  When in Paris, they miss America.  When in America, they miss Paris.  
We know how they feel, and will always be a little homesick for the romance we left behind.  It is appropriate then to use the French farewell, as au revoir means literally: au, till the + revoir, seeing again.
This is what Ron and I will long to do.

Note:  To find our love lock, follow the Seine west from Fontaine San Michel.  At the Pont des Arts bridge, walk North to the 3rd lamppost looking east to Notre Dame.  It is locked near the bottom of the 4th vertical pole of the wire fence, an equal distance between the 3rd and 4th lamppost….we encourage you to add your own!