This autumn it will be 10 years since I was last (and first) in Paris. My mother and I made the trip together and it was wonderful. More on that in a minute. The other significance is that we got on a plane a relatively short time after 9-11-01. Not many people were, certainly not for a pleasure trip, and we considered canceling too. But we didn’t consider it for very long. Because even in the worst times you can possibly imagine, life moves forward. When I gave Mom the choice, she replied, “Honey, I say we go. If anything happens, at least we are together.” Yes, that’s my mom, and I love her for it. Of course, I feel behooved to point out that at the time she was 65 and I was 39. I wasn’t exactly ready to turn the Pradas over to my heirs just yet. But, if Eleanor was willing to chance it, who was I to argue? We were, after all, bred from the same adventurous stock. Add to that the ‘deadly physical force’ training my mother received many years earlier before she retired from the Courts, and in a flash I could be traveling with one badass Mutha! I figured we were covered. So, off we went, phrasebooks and maps in hand, ready to eat our way through Paris. It was a spectacular trip – everything you could wish for your first trip to the city of lights. And a couple of things that, well…
We stayed in a small hotel recommended by a cousin who worked in the fashion business. In fact, she had to use her connections to get us in. That alone got me excited – a secret gem of the fashion elite. Just think of the shoes! The first thing we noticed was our hotel’s perfect location: left bank, right around the corner from Yves St. Laurent. Tres chic! The second thing we noticed was the elevator. “You mean either we go up, or our luggage, but not both?” As we quite literally stood nose to nose I remember thinking that is was a good thing we liked each other and hadn’t had a large meal on the plane. Picture a phone booth as elevator, only less roomy.
Our room was spacious enough. High ceilings, 2 twin beds, small table, 2 chairs, armoire, small TV with ears de lapin. And two doors I thought were either the bathroom or a closet. Behind door #1, (the door closest to our beds) was the bathroom…as in room with bathtub and sink. Door #2, waaaay over on the other side of the room was les toilettes. Ok, not such a big deal, I thought. You’d think after the 3rd time groping in the dark, opening door, and quietly muttering “aw SH*T…it’s the other door”, you’d learn. No, you don’t. In les toilettes was a teeny tiny window that never quite closed all the way. Not a bad feature in a very small WC, n’est–ce pas? Oui…except when the crisp breeze of an autumn night wafts across the seat….AH! Paris.
And speaking of les toilettes, the guidebooks seem to leave out the little detail that you often have to pay to pee in Paree. That would have been a good thing to know, you know? Especially when you perform the ‘I have to GO’ dance to a bistro waiter while miming “may I please have some change?” And you just know the guy speaks perfect English but is enjoying the floorshow WAY too much to let on. Ah…Paris.
Yet despite, or perhaps because of all this I look back on it now 10 years later as one of my favorite vacations and a most treasured time with my mom. We laughed (a LOT), we ate (even more), we shopped (oh the SHOES!) Best of all, we loved every minute of it. At a time of such pain and turmoil, we were reminded life could be good again too. One day soon, we’ll go back again. Ah…Paris.