paulonleave: (blind sided)
[personal profile] paulonleave

The last couple of days have been pretty weird for me, as one might imagine.  I was all set to wallow in self-pity and melodrama about leaving Paris, but now that seems rather incidental.

Well, not entirely incidental, since there are myriad tasks associated with vacating even a small apartment after almost a year of occupancy.  I thought that I had organized myself well, but I didn't stay on top of things as much as I should have.  I did take the afternoon off, for quick visits to the Louvre and the Pompidou Centre to say goodbye to my favourite paintings,  and I took a relaxing stroll along "Paris Plage."  (I'll try to post something about that next week.  In  the meantime, in case you don't know, "plage" means "beach".  The City of Paris has established a tradition of transforming the quays along the Seine near the City Hall into a "beach", complete with sand and palm trees, for a month or so in the summer time.)

But along with that, I also scrubbed my bathroom, and washed out the now almost completely empty fridge, and crammed all of my crap into a couple of suitcases.  All I have to do now -- which I should be doing now instead of blogging -- is finish packing my "carry-on" luggage and mop the floor in the main room.  In about an hour, ie, at 11pm, I'm meeting Guy at the Cafe Beaubourg for a last toast to my year in Paris.

I guess bereavement is ultimately fairly banal:  we all eventually lose someone we love, and probably the emotions we feel, that seem so strong and so specific, are the same.  I find myself forgetting that Rita is dead, and then make plans to tell her about the meal that Alain prepared last night, or, even more illogically, wonder how she will react to the notice of her death that I posted in my blog.  Then, of course, it all comes flooding back, and the state of my toilet seat (now pristine) seems inconsequential.  I think about the practicalities -- the funeral service, her apartment, the will and all the business that goes with that -- and then feel a wave of self-questioning  (I almost wrote "self-loathing" but that seems too strong) as I try to psychologically balance my intellectual sense that all that stuff is important with my emotional sense that it is not.

I am lucky in many respects:  my brother and sister are both in Kingston, and have looked after the immediate decisions about the service and so on;  and my partner Bob has been extremely helpful, both emotionally and pragmatically.  On thing that is comforting me at the moment, is that I actually spent some time in Paris with my mother, several years ago.

We were taking a bus tour -- one of those 14 day/16 country deals -- together, and it began and ended in Paris.  Since learning of her death, I have thought a lot about our time here, drinking beer in the hot sun on the Left Bank, cruising on the Seine in a Bateaux Mouche, eating at Hippopotamus at La Defense, drinking coffee at Guy's, and, especially, eating the worst meal that either of us had ever had in a grotty restaurant at Place de la Republique.

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Paul Leonard

April 2017

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