Today, it’s cold ashes from a lot of months ago. Flanked by windows that frame dull copper winter Beech leaves against a pale twilight. But twenty nine years ago…
If you’re home life is hopelessly miserable and you’re avoiding it after work on a Friday by heading into a neighborhood saloon and the parking lot is blocked by a green Buick stuck in snow due to a trunk full of firewood that eventually has to hand carried to a third floor apartment … it could happen.
And it lasted forever. As much as anyone has forever.
Flâner is a French word with no accurate English translation. It roughly means to wander without direction but be part of a place. To discover what you didn’t know you were looking for. The place to do it is Paris. And Le Marais, where our apartment was, is heaven. We’d explored Place des Vosges and the part of Musee Carnavalet still open before renovation began. And planned to attend the free concert there the following afternoon. After walking for hours, Place Sainte-Catherine on a perfect late September afternoon was our resting place. Lunch was a proper two hour, Parisian dejeuener.
There were Moms and Dads with kids and tourists and a very good busker playing violin. And lovers, both young and like us, old. It was perfect. It was our “La Vie En Rose”.
There are two now, a much newer one at the Bastille and this, designed by Charles Garnier and completed in 1875. It provided the story line and myth for “The Phantom of The Opera”, including his reserved box. There is a lake beneath, created to drain wet land during construction. And a woman was killed in her seat by a fallen piece of chandelier. Before Ballet Russe resurrected ballet here, the balconies were places to be seen. Today, the Paris Ballet is extraordinary. It is the only ballet I have seen as an audience and with my sweet heart. That and a dinner afterward, overlooking a Parisian boulevard, was the last memory we shared.
That scene where two people meet by chance and both instantly know they will spend their lives together? It’s not make believe, it’s real. Happened to us nearly 29 years ago. We had to say goodbye last night at UNC Medical Center, Chapel Hill. Our spirits are still interwoven and will be, always.