Sleepy-eyed after a very long night of wining & dining, I crawl out of bed and pour myself a steaming hot bowl of café au lait and toast slices of pain au levain…
The beginning of another year in Paris.
I bring the bowl to my lips and take a comforting sip.
I slather butter on my warm toast. It melts and forms little buttery puddles in between the delightfully irregular bubbles revealed each time I slice and toast another slab from the hearty loaf.
I drizzle it with bitter chestnut honey. Delicious.
The sweet, creamy smear of butter and the sharp, amber honey pair feel just right this morning after a night scraping briny oysters from their shells and washing them down with endless flutes of icy Champagne. After we polished off several platters of les huitres, our next course was tiny roasted quails, expertly roasted with root vegetables, accompanied by the smoothest puree of potatoes, mounded alongside, bathed in a delicate sauce made from the savory pan juices.
Afterwards, a long sleep was in order while all of Paris closed up for the night. My re-entry to the world begins when the late winter sun peers out from behind the curtains. A few slow, tentative movements as I slide out of bed, and I find myself back into the world.
That wonderful luminosity of Paris!
The sun peering through the grey still of winter.
The heater buzzes softly in the corner, the only sound, except for the faint patter of traffic on the street down below.
The gentle quiet of a slow morning, as Paris begins to wake up. Curtains are tentatively opened in buildings across the way. A queu begins at the corner bakery, Parisians exiting with slender baguettes tucked under their arms and warm, buttery croissants enclosed in stiff bakery paper.
How wonderful to live in a city where breakfast inspires a photograph.
I finish the last, warm sip of my café au lait.
My clothes are draped carelessly over the sofa where I dropped them the night before. I gather them up.
Then I smell it.
That ever-present, overpowering smell.
My clothes reek of cigarette smoke.
The woman sitting next to me last night spent the evening chain-smoking. She went though an entire pack of cigarettes during dinner. No sooner did she finish one cigarette then she lit up another. The room became so smoke-filled that I had to get up several times during the night just to catch some fresh air in another room. My eyes burning with acrid cigarette smoke, at times I was barely able to breathe. Every so often, the room would clear of it’s grey, foul, heavy smoke…then someone else would light up, prompting everyone else to reach for their cigarettes and light up another.
My clothing will have to go to the cleaners.
I settle in at my desk to check my email.
My email doesn’t work, nor does my internet connection.
No email. No internet. Nothing.
I consider calling Noosnet Customer Service, then I remember the last time I tried that.
Four weeks later they re-connected me.
I shiver and wonder why it suddenly feels so cold? Why does it seem so dark inside?
I switch on a light. Nothing happens. I try another lamp.
The heater has stopped buzzing and the metal feels cold to the touch.
My electricity is off.
I begin to get chilly, thinking a nice, hot shower will warm me up.
I run the water for a few minutes.
The pathetic spittle of water that comes from the shower nozzle is barely tepid. I let the water flow for a few more minutes. It’s still cold, the water just slightly warmer than the now almost near-freezing temperature inside my apartment. I shiver and think about getting in, then turn off the sad trickle, putting it out of it’s misery. I decide to get back into bed, burying myself under my fluffy down duvet and crisp linen sheets, where it’s all warm and cozy.
“Bienvenue à Paris…let’s give it another year.”…I sigh to myself, before dozing off.