Packing Up

Jul. 23rd, 2005 01:29 pm
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A couple of people asked some "summing it up" questions about my rapidly dwindling time in Paris. 

[livejournal.com profile] 2fruition asks: "It's a given that you will be thrilled to be home with Bob once more. Is there anything else that you are looking forward to doing once you are home again?"

I'll leave aside the interpersonal things, like seeing my friends and family, since that is a given as well.  So, I'm looking forward to (in no particular order):
Riding my bike
Taking advantage of the "spa" area at the Metro Central YMCA
Teaching
Using domestic amenities -- dishwasher, washer/dryer, printer/scanner, tv, BBQ
Pissing on the hydrants of Church Street and the Annex
Sitting on the roof of Paupers, eating nachos and drinking Creemore
Snuggling with Bob on a couch that is longer than we are
Listening to The World at Six and As It Happens with Bob while we cook/eat dinner

[livejournal.com profile] ruralrob asks: "What do you miss most about Canada, eh?"

My answers to [livejournal.com profile] 2fruition, give some hints.  I'll add that I miss Canadian newspapers.  The Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail (especially the Saturday Globe.)  Our newspapers are both cheaper and fatter than the dailies here, and for me, a lot easier to read.  I miss Canadian humour, that dryly self-mocking sense of our own unimportance in the world.  I miss Canadian culture -- both the artefacts themselves and the cultural gossip that goes with them:  endorsing or sneering at the Giller and GG short lists, labelling plays "DDM"  [Definitely Dora Material], debating arts funding policies, that kind of stuff.  Probably after I post this, I'll think of some more things.

[livejournal.com profile] bobalone asks several questions, as is his wont:

1)  "I figure that during the last 10 months you have visited at least 20 major cities and towns BESIDES Paris, not only in France but also in Belgium, Holland, Germany and Italy. Of those, do any stand out, for good or bad reasons, as places that you will 'never forget.'  Are there any to which you would especially like to return? Are there places to which you would NEVER want to go back?"

For the record, these are the cities I visited:  Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Milan, Bologna, Florence, Naples, Sorrento, Amalfi, Salerno, Venice, Knokke, Brugges, numerous towns and villages in Brittany,  and Amsterdam.

I have fallen a bit in love with Berlin, and would happily go back there any time.  It strikes me as an utterly unpretentious city; it wears its violent and divided past like a voluminous cloak, but inside that ragged garment, it has a strong and vigorous body. 

I liked the sensibility of Bologna, and the architecture; likewise, I was surprised by how comfortable and interesting  I found Salerno.

There is nowhere that I would "never" return to, but I have to say that the big tourist centres are rather uncongenial.  I'm glad that I've had a chance to explore Venice and Florence, for example, and I understand why millions of people visit those gem-like cities.  But I'm in no hurry to go back.

Increasingly, I find that people are more interesting than places, so my attitude toward various cities is coloured by whether or not I met people or made friends there:  in Hamburg, Berlin, Knokke and Amsterdam, for example, I stayed with people I like rather than in a hotel, so those cities seemed particularly agreeable to me.

2) "The inevitable 'so you're leaving Paris' questions: what will you miss the most? Are there things that you will be glad to leave behind?"

Okay, to be honest, I'll be glad to leave behind this tiny apartment of mine.  It has been perfectly suitable, and extremely well located, but now I'm tired of its little kitchen and bathroom and steep ladder up to my bed.  I'm tired of my neighbour's dog.

What will I miss?  Most keenly, I will miss my friends.  For a long time, I have thought of Guy/[livejournal.com profile] parisianbear as one of my closest friends, but since he lives so far away this seemed somewhat artificial.  I have seen him much more frequently over the past few months, and my affection and regard for him have just become stronger and stronger.  It will be hard to go back to having to see him only once every year or two.  Similarly, ever since I met Alain/[livejournal.com profile] adrenger, I have been more than a little in love with him; being able to have dinner with him regularly has been one of the most rewarding parts of my Parisian sojourn.  I've also met some new people, as regular readers will know:  Richard, Chris, Jeffrey.  Richard, especially, has been a major part of my life here, and I'll miss him a lot when I go back to Toronto.

As for Paris itself:  I'll miss the beauty of the city, where even minor residential streets are charming.  I'll miss the food -- a great variety of cheeses, very fresh produce, still-hot-bread, and so on.  I'll miss being able to dart into the Louvre or the Pompidou Centre whenever I want.  I'll miss the sense of being in the heart of Europe, with numerous other countries close by.  In Toronto, most of the visitors I meet are other Canadians, or Americans.  Here one constantly meets Germans, Italians, Brits, Spaniards, Swiss, as well as Australians, Americans and (of course) other Canadians.

Well, that's it for the moment.  I'll get to the rest of the questions soon.
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Paul Leonard

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