We left Bayonne by train enroute to Paris. Eric packed a picnic for the journey (he’s good like that); ham with truffles, cheese, fresh baguette and Tomatoes with salt. Finally we arrive. They found a girl who was willing to lend me her flat in the suburbs. We go to Eric’s brothers, Jean Francois, “farm” to fetch the keys. Now how does one explain what is meant by farm. Jean Francois started this urban farm 24 years ago, with some push back from his community, as it seems it was not in line with the plan of modern infrastructure. Each out building is like walking into an abandoned museum filled with dusty antiques, art… old caravans. It is like finding treasure in the bottom of the ocean. On the farm he has chickens, goats, peacock… I’m sure I’m missing something.
When I asked him to explain to me what exactly the farm was, he replied, “it is culture and agriculture”. It is a platform for art of all mediums. And that it was. He and his friend Ann, who also works at the farm (a fellow foodie with a little black book of places to eat it Paris) will join us for dinner. Jean Francois embodies all of what I love about Paris. He guides us through the veins of the metro, walks with a brisk saunter that we all struggle to keep up with. He speaks emphatically as he flicks his cigarette..”facking” this and “facking” that. All the while providing me with a cultural commentary of everything we pass. There is no other person I’d rather be tailing in Paris.
We go to a restaurant in Bastille, that Ann and Jean Francois have both been to before. I love this atmosphere. A sort of bustling casualness and service that matches it.
Dinner was fabulous. Not as good as they had hoped, they said, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.
As we combed the streets of Bastille we find the new restaurant of the chef we revered the last time we all ate together at Rosvall. As luck would have it, he and the semmilier that left a stamp on me two years prior, were there. They usher us to sit and brings us a dessert and the best damn martinis I have yet to have. Bone dry gin from Belgium, pear vermouth made from a gal in Brooklyn. And a twist. Mmmmm. A perfect way to end a perfect evening.
This morning I take the train from the suburbs to Paris. I am headed out to do a little shopping. I’ve been to Paris twice now and have seen all the ‘must sees’ -the Arc de triumph..Champs-élysées etc. But as I hold the rail swaying, looking at the metro line, I see that in two stops is the Louvre. I think about the Ukrainian girl I met in Venice. I think about our discussion about the Mona Lisa and how one see’s her differently each time you see her-a reflection of what you feel. I saw Mona when I was 19 years old backpacking across Europe. It was anticlimactic because I think I wasn’t in a place in life to be ‘looking’ or ‘self reflecting’. With all this change and uncertainty I am curious what I will see. Instinctually, without much contemplation, I find myself getting off at the Louvre. I buy a ticket and go in search of Mona. “excuse me where is Mona?” “up the stairs”, “excuse me where is Mona”, “to the right”. Then I find her.
I walk slowly towards her glass casing. I see her. Her coy grin. It’s as though she’s expecting me . She is confident and at peace like she’s found her place and no matter how embedded she is in that glass she is never really bound. I get closer.
Me and mona. She’s happy I think. She looks at me and she says..
“You got this.”
I weep. Yup..weeping like a ‘facking’ baby. I keep looking back as I walk away and find her gaze “you got this”.