By the time I got to the apartment it was about half past eight in the morning of 1 October local Paris time – half past eleven at night the day after my departure. I had gone about 21 or so hours without sleep. From previous experience I know that the jet lag kiss of death is to “take a little nap” after arriving. After arriving, I have learned, one needs to keep doing things until 8 or 9 in the evening of that day. If that is done one can go to sleep at a functionally similar bedtime to that which one usually practices at home, sleep through the night, even sleep late perhaps, and be, after the harrowing experience of no sleep for 30 hours, more or less in tune with the local clock.
And I have developed a regimen and routine in support of that arrival day requirement. But I needed to get my stuff into the apartment first.
I had forgotten that my apartment was on the third floor and that there was no elevator. The elevator’s lack required that I take two very heavy Hartmann rollers, a very heavy Hartmann satchel and a very heavy Targus backpack to the apartment up four flights of stairs. (The French number the first floor as zero.) When I had completed that activity I was soaking wet, breathing somewhat more deeply than normal and experiencing an amazing heart beat. Any doubt concerning my heart health was allayed with that activity.
After I got into the apartment I took one of my cameras and headed for the Luxembourg Gardens.
The regimen for beating jet lag always starts in the Luxembourg Gardens. There are always pictures to be taken and the Garden is always a great place to walk. It is just over two kilometers around. Walking two kilometers and stopping to take pictures can be a stimulating endeavor; it takes one’s mind off the fact that one is experiencing a grinding sense of ultimate decline toward some very personal form of oblivion; and it takes time: time that needs to be consumed as the clock creeps its way toward Paris bedtime.
Another desirable feature of the Gardens is that one of its gates feeds onto Rue de Fleurus. Rue de Fleurus passes a number of interesting or personally significant places. For example, it passes the one time home of Gertrude Stein on 27 Rue de Fleurus. I have absolutely no interest in Gertrude Stein but Hemingway used to hang out there and he wrote about it in A Moveable Feast, and A Moveable Feast is a sort of touchstone document for me, so 27 Rue de Fleurus has some significance for me. It also passes a shambles of a Bricolagerie run by two old men. In my first few visits to Paris when I needed some piece of hardware that I had no idea where to get I was always able to get it there. Rue de Fleurus also passes Alliance Francaise de Paris. Passing Alliance always reminds me of my real lack of commitment, in spite of great and gravidly theatrical posturing, of my ever doing anything to learn any more French than is necessary to order a glass of wine. If I were serious I would walk into the Alliance and turn myself in and request not to be released or fed until I had become fluent.
Rue de Fleurus has another feature that is especially dear to me. It ultimately intersects with Rue de Rennes. Once on Rue de Rennes, heading toward Boulevard Saint-Germain, if one goes a certain distance, one comes to Café du Métro. And Café du Métro has wonderful onion soup. Onion soup, some bread and a carafe of wine can begin to put life back into one’s body, allaying to some degree the grinding of the long out of control clock. And consuming it uses some of the time left on that clock as it counts down to bedtime.
So after the great baggage lift, I circumnavigated the Luxembourg Gardens I nodded respectfully as I passed 27 Rue de Fleurus and waved to the Bricolagerie. I shuddered as I passed Alliance. And I had onion soup at Café du Métro.
But there still was time to fill.
So I went back to the apartment and tested the assurances proffered by Thierry my landlord that all I had to do to gain access to the internet was to unplug the Ethernet cable from his computer (the other end was inserted in a modem from Orange) and plug it into my computer. I have never known acquiring internet access to be anything but a harrowing experience. But in this case it worked. No outbound email, of course, but that’s a little much to expect. So more time passed. And I was still awake.
I went to Le Départ Saint-Michel and savored very slowly a carafe of rosé.
I walked across the Place in front of the fountain crossed Boulevard Saint-Michel and went down Rue Saint-Andre des Arts. I walked back to the apartment from Rue de Bucci down Rue de Seine to the river and back, going through the forecourt to Notre Dame.
And then, miraculously it had become about seven in the evening. I could now complete the regimen and call it a day – a long, long day.
I went to dinner at City Crêpes Café on Rue de Seine. A “Wall street” (a galette with lox, cream cheese and spinach) a quart de rosé, a salade de tomate and a crepe flambé with grand marnier pretty well greased the skids to my proximately subsequent act of reclaiming some lost sleep and of synchronizing my personal clock with that more cosmic one of Paris.
Other than those things, nothing has happened.
I have just been synchronizing.
But I sense that that may be about to change.
I have begun to have those feelings which I prefer not to think about, let alone talk about. But I have been having them. They are like some sort of distant rustle of leaves or some sort of subtly, barely existent waft of scent. They assert themselves in a manner that is discernible, but barely so.
And something always happens in the wake of those kinds of rustlings and those kinds of feelings.
We shall see.