‘I don’t like people who are late’. (Anna Wintour).
Well, Anna and I would have had a real struggle today. After a week of being highly organised and feeling (almost) on top of everything, I’ve let Sunday down – and I’ll blame it (in part), on the Russians.
Never in my life have I been told I need to ‘hurry up’ when it comes to anything even remotely related to a glass of wine. For anyone who knows me, I’m sure you’d agree that I’m very good at keeping up when it comes to having a little sip.
Last night, over a beautiful dinner in a snug little apartment in the 16th arrondissement, I was talking so much (no surprises there) that I found myself being (laughingly) reminded by the husband of my host, that I needed to lift my game when it came to finishing my glass. In the company of my wonderful Russian hosts and an equally wonderful Japanese couple (my fellow guests), we laughed as I drank up, promising them I’d never forget this ‘life first’.
All this hilarity and good cheer married with fascinating conversation covering a thousand different topics teamed with the inevitable eye rolls at the French numerical system, has resulted in me spending most of today walking aimlessly around the apartment poking things – while trying to remember what it was I thought I might do next. I’ve achieved very little, but I do have a tidy home ready for the week ahead and, it has to be said, I’m sorry I’m late in my delivery of this piece.
I love exploring the streets of Paris’ differing arrondissements and it is always fun to venture out of the often touristy Latin Quarter that I call home. Each quarter has its own identity but they are all married with commonalities including endless history, Parisians in varying shapes and sizes, doors that I would do anything to get behind, boulangeries, brasseries, cafés and bars, galleries, boutiques, flourists, street musicians, butchers and épiceries. I could wander from neighbourhood to neighbourhood and never tire of it all – in Paris, I never quite know what might be around the corner.
As I made my way to dinner, the metro rattled from Odéon in the 6th, to Michel Ange Auteuil in the 16th, I swayed from side to side with my basket resting on my lap as I observed each person in the carriage, one by one, taking a moment to conclude that majority of them are probably very decent people going about their daily lives. In a world where the media highlights the bad and very rarely speaks of the good- filling our minds with awful and powerful propaganda as it brews up endless witch-hunts which over complicate everything, it is easy to see how globally, we are at war with ourselves and quite literally, with other countries – usually as a result of an unwillingness to just stop, take a moment to listen and understand our differences and competing priorities. NB. This is not to excuse anything that is legitimately ‘wrong’.
Stepping out of the metro station in the 16th, I breathed in an air of busyness as store keepers closed up for the night and families made their way to restaurants in preparation for the evening meal. Laughter filled the air and I felt very much at home; in that moment I didn’t really have a worry in the world, I felt happy, my mind was clear.
As I meandered through the streets on the short walk from the metro to a much anticipated dinner with my new friends, I was filled with further contemplation. I looked forward to a night with new aquaintences made just weeks ago, when we started a new challenge in a course that is teaching us about a culture for which we have a shared love, and fascination in equal parts.
All of all us are from different cultures but we are brought together by likenesses- in particular, to be fulfilled and fair and to make a positive contribution in the world based on sensible decisions. Our friendships were established over glasses of wine at lunchtime, followed by endless coffees after hours of phonétiques, in the first few days of our course- we are an unusual trio (but, in the next breath), we are all very similar.
Over dinner we reflected on many things, questions were raised, answers were given. Perspectives were shared, eyes were opened. One thing we all agreed on, is how refreshing it is that we have found each other in the classroom -from each other we continue to learn and this is exciting and fulfilling and (the state of the world aside), the only thing that is really confusing for us collectively, is le langue français.
Later in the night as I made the walk back to the metro, a man played his trumpet in the street below the apartment – the wistful tunes of ‘Blue Moon’ filled the air and people stuck their heads out their windows to have a look. His music brought the neighbourhood together, just as Paris continues to bring people together each day.
I love this city and the way in which it works its magic, bringing me friends and situations unique to this moment – and for this, I feel entirely grateful.
Pictured: magnificent evening light as I meandered towards the Seine earlier this evening