I type this in the window of my tiny loft as threatening clouds hover above and a much anticipated cool breeze sweeps past my nose. This morning on the news, the breathy French woman who delivers the weather spoke (at a pace that would challenge a high speed train), of temperatures reaching 40 degrees in the coming days- a reality hard to imagine on this pleasantly cool Parisian day.
The past couple of days have seen me settling back into life in this beautiful big city after almost a month of travels which included two very special weeks with Dad, a trip to the UK followed by a week in Italy, and upon my arrival back here very late on Monday night I was met with a feeling of being very much at home. My administrative needs had completely slipped as I whirled around the countryside and 'to do' lists have become common place over the past 48 hours.
I've enjoyed conversations with shopkeepers in my year three French, and even positively skipped out of Diptyque on Monday after the very nice man (in both the looks and temperament departments) told me that I am doing well with 'my speaking French.' This was after he had signed me up to their loyalty program and I'm sure it was just a ploy to get me back to purchase a €9,000,000 difuser, but neverthelesse I blushed, thanked him very much and then bid him goodnight (completely illegal in this language unless the person is very familiar). And, it was 2pm.
After weeks of thrashing my white summer shirt suits, I hauled them all through the washing machine before setting off yesterday morning, making a mental note that a laundry bucket and some napisan needed to be added to the shopping list. After a day of walking the streets, crossing items off the list over a coffee in the afternoon, I had completed all of my jobs with just a trip to the 'droguerie' being the last one on my list, and where I would purchase a bucket and a small vessle to keep the 'use daily' section of the bathroom tidy.
I love the 'droguerie,' a tiny little hardware store which is only moments from the apartment. Straw baskets hang from hooks out the front and upon stepping through the doors, everything you could possibly imagine is stacked purposfully onto shelves that line every inch of it's tall walls, framing the minuscule square metres that make up the shop floor. The man who runs the store is a wonderful, bearded and friendly Parisian who is old school in his manner, making him a complete gentleman. He always speaks in French and doesn't whince when I answer his questions- a rarity in this city and just the way I like it.
As I made my approach, I practiced conversations in my head that you might have around a bucket- 'it's for the laundry' I would confidently say before adding 'I can't live without a laundry bucket,' and then I'd go mute and pray that he wouldn't get too carried away. Once inside, my eyes panned the tiny shop catching a glimpse of hammers, ladders, napkins, more baskets than a French bakery, light bulbs, nails and an abundance of glassware stacked neatly in the corner. There was soap hanging from the ceiling and nifty little shopping bags wrapped tightly in their reusable packages, but not a bucket in sight. The bearded shopkeeper met me with his usual friendliness and I asked if he had 'un petit seau,' (I always find it easier to ask for a little bag, or a little glass of wine, believing it to be much politer and less American, and was not going to buck the trend for a bucket). 'Oui' came his reply, as he moved heaven and earth, rearranging trolleys stacked with novelty items such as espadrilles and biscuit tins, before opening a cupboard under the front window where a collection of buckets, ranging from petit to grand, were stacked in the usual range of colours, red, blue, white and grey.
We agreed on a 'seau' with a four litre capacity if it was for the laundry, before I purchased a little basket for the bathroom and a nice piece of green soap for the shower as well. I didn't farewell him with 'goodnight' rather a cheerful 'et vous' after he wished me a 'good day.' As I meandered home through the little strip of cafes that line the street leading to mine, I overheard an American girl asking her friend very loudly 'what is French food anyway,' to which her companian replied 'oh, you know, like crepes and snails,' which was met with 'Ew, pancakes and snails, how gross.'
Throughout the moments in which I processed this highly entertaining conversation, a turbo charged Porsche with NYC number plates almost mowed me down and I scattered, bucket under my arm towards a postcard stand, almost collecting the waiter who had been so rude to me over a month ago (I wrote about him in an earlier blog, singling him out as the only rude French person I've ever truly endured). Obviously recalling the force with which he threw me in his display of bullish rudeness (equally as abnoxious as the Porsche that had almost mown him down in that very moment as well), he gave me a knowing, almost apologetgic smile, as he raised his hand into a friendly wave. I clutched my grey bucket under my arm and marched past him with a half smile and gritted teeth thinking 'I'm in it for the long haul Monsieur, I've even got a laundry bucket,' and continued on my merry way home.