Today marked my twelfth day in Paris, days full of figuring out the How-To Manual of Living In Paris. I have been busy, yes, but most of it has been fairly ordinary and pretty exhausting. Gathering and cooking, trying to figure out whether the cleaner was for the toilet or the wood floors, looking for places Sawyer would relieve himself within a short distance of our apartment, wondering how to get the women at the bakery to smile at me. It’s the stuff of everyday and it’s good, but after almost two weeks of little adult contact outside of my family I was feeling, how you say, restless. I needed a change of scenery and a few new triumphs. When today proved to be yet another glorious sunny day, and when some serious demo work started on the apartment two floors above me, I knew this was the day. After Sawyer’s second walk, I peeled off the sweater and long-sleeved shirt and donned a sleeveless number whose days are limited for this season. That’s a weird thing about living in an apartment- it’s really hard to know what it feels like outside- and I keep getting it wrong and sweating or shivering through my first walk of the morning.
Anyway, today’s cathartic field trip was to the American Library, by bus! I know– pretty crazy, right? Sometimes I just get that way and there is nothing for it but to go with it. With the help of the internet, I gathered what materials were required for purchasing a membership, mapped out the right bus, and I was ready for my adventure.
The buses here are super easy to use. The bus stop is a short walk from my apartment, and has the bus number, route, and next departure time clearly marked. These handy-dandy signs are in all the bus stops, and tell you when the next two arrivals will be of each of the two or three buses that come to that stop.
The library is not far- just across the Champs Elysees, over the river, and down a few lovely blocks.
My internal GPS was, amazingly, working, and I found the library with no problem. It is pretty small but has music, movies, magazines, and, of course, books. The young woman at the desk was friendly and within ten minutes I was the proud holder of a brand new library card with my picture on it! It did cost me 100 euros (1 euro = around $1. 45) for a year, so it’s a good thing it’s easy to get to! I checked out two travel books on Italy, as we are thinking of going there for Martha’s October break. They also have author readings and book clubs, both of which interest me. I am not usually a magazine reader, but I can see myself settling in there during those dark, cold winter days and enjoying some English newspapers and magazines.
Oh yeah- did I mention it’s super close to this?
So being a new card holder and all, I was feeling pretty cocky when I left there, and decided I was up for even more adventure (if you can imagine). I had been in a nearby neighborhood one night with friends when Mark ditched me for the weekend, and I remembered there were lots of cute cafes , so I walked down some streets and chose a place for my first solo sidewalk lunch. I had a Salade Nicoise , a glass of wine, and a dessert, which I thought a fitting commemorative meal for my library achievement. Best of all, the waiter never started talking to me in English, which they usually do after “bonjour”. I soaked up the sun and watched the passers-by and read a few pages about the Amalfi Coast. It didn’t suck at all.
Stick with me, friends, and I will take you on many, many more such wild adventures! IF you can handle it.