Back Home In The City Of Light

We’re moving slowly this morning.

After about 18 hours of travel, we arrived at Charles de Gaulle to find (quelle surprise) the French airport workers were en greve (that is, on strike). We waded through hundreds of people to make it to the immigration line…where we waited more than an hour to be admitted to the country.

Then, outside, we joined those same hundreds of people waiting for taxis to take us all into the city.

Then, on the highway…mon dieu…rush-hour traffic. Another hour-and-a-half later, we arrived finally at the little apartment on rue de Verneuil that the kids, traveling with us, remember as home.

Our 21-year-old daughter Kaitlin and her boyfriend Harry have taken caffeine pills…and say they feel great!

Meantime, Lief and I are sleepwalking through the day, barely able to remember each others’ names…while Jack is asking if we can go to the park to play soccer. This jet lag stuff seems tougher to deal with the older you get.

“What time is it?” Lief asked a little while ago.

“Time? Where?” I mumbled in response. “I think I changed my watch from Panama time to Newark time during our layover. But I can’t remember if I changed it to Paris time when we arrived this morning. Frankly, I’m not sure if it’s a.m. or p.m.”

The kids went for a walk, to reacquaint themselves with our neighborhood. The shop on the corner run by the family that gave Kaitlin and Jackson free sweets every time we’d stop in is still there (to Jackson’s delight). The boulangerie across the street has remodeled itself up-market (alas, the croissants will cost more). A new brasserie called l’Empire has opened two blocks down. A new Monoprix (a kind of French Wal-Mart with sundries and groceries) has opened five minutes’ walk away. We have a chocolaterie now where an art gallery used to be. And a papeterie two buildings down.

“Our street is even cooler than it used to be,” Kaitlin exclaimed as she, Harry, and Jack burst back in through the front door a few minutes ago.

We’re told temperatures here in Paris reached nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit last week. Right now, the sun is shining brightly, but it’s a pleasant 75 or so. The two young children of our building’s guardienne are running around in the courtyard outside our window, their little feet clicking and clacking on the cobblestones, their small voices floating up and in through our open windows…along with, now and then, a “Bonjour, Madame”…”Bonjour, Monsieur,” as the residents of our building greet each other coming and going.

Lief found the key to the cave, and he and the kids went down to choose wine for our first dinner together tonight. I asked them to bring up some champagne, as well.

Ah, they’re just back, arms full of bottles. I’d better go help them through the door…

Kathleen Peddicord

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