Paris: The B Side

I never tire of this city.

Never Tired

Never Tired

Each time is like the first time. Every time the train pulls into Gare du Nord, I feel my stomach do light flip flops in echoes of the heavier ones they did eight years ago when I got off that Eurolines bus from Leuven. And each time I drop my bags and head back out into the river of other romantics for whom this place is talismanic. This time is special. Again. For I have come for love. No. Not to be proposed to atop the Eiffel Tower or on a moonlight sail on the Seine. This time it’s filial. My sister loves this town too.

Bienvenue a Gare du Nord

Bienvenue a Gare du Nord

And we have come here together. To weave my old memories into her first time ones, to create a new set of ours. First sign that the fates are with us is the picture of Bob Marley hanging in the passage outside our room. Clearly this is our space. So Bob say!

Destiny, So Bob Say!

Destiny, So Bob Say!

I try to be careful. I don’t want my knowledge to dominate her expectations. Oh hell I don’t want my expectations dominate me. I can’t help it but I am going to try. We get our tickets for the metro and we are heading to see the Golden Lady. She looks particularly beautiful tonight. All blinged out like a Swarovski explosion. We are booked to go to the sommet and I barely make it to the second floor and at least we did that together, braver than I she goes to the top.

Together at Level 2

Together at Level 2

Sometimes the plan in your head stays the plan in your head. But you can turn it into something else. A long walk. Across the bridge to Trocadero and we find her beret. Down looking for a bar but not really wanting to stop because the walking and talking feels so good and it isn’t that cold anymore. Before we know it we’re at the Etoile and the Arc de Triomphe, then stopping at a late night tabac to get a 5 euro bottle of beaujolais.

But this is an even newer first time. We are both past forty but this is the first time we have ever spent time together, alone. Nine days of just us, learning each other and this town. Me learning about my new discomfort with heights, she learning that it is too easy for a single girl to stay silently in her head and me learning that staying in your head doesn’t strengthen the sisterhood. But both learning we love Billie Holiday, Grease and red wine by the bottle, so you can imagine our delight when Helmie (complete with flower in her hair) at the Sunset/Sunside on Rue des Lombards did an abbreviated, a capella God Bless the Child.

Thanks For The Blessing, Helmie

Thanks For The Blessing, Helmie

We now know that we can spend a day in Pompidou, then share a bottle.

Our Favourite Guy in Pompidou

Our Favourite Guy in Pompidou

Eat near midnight like those impossibly lean French women and realise the secret to staying that way is to walk the four or so miles back to your hotel taking semi-drunk selfies ( Barack how could you?!) sharing secrets that are old to you but are new to each other.

Right Set of Selfie Circumstances

Right Set of Selfie Circumstances

She is cute in a beret. They don’t work for me. She calls me her globetrotting sister but doesn’t realize that she is her own GPS. She is a wonderful daughter, sister, mother and wife. Her patience is bottomless and her generosity incomparable. I can get us from London to Brussels to Paris and back to London in six days but please don’t ask me to wait. We have lessons to teach each other and a whole lot to learn. Paris is our classic record where the ordinary song on the B side sounds even sweeter than the slick Side A offering. So we will let it keep playing til it starts to crackle. If you listen you imagine you can hear Lady Day singing our song; Sister.

Locked In

Locked In

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