Inexplicably, I can not sleep. It’s 2:30 a.m. in Paris while it’s 7:30 p.m. back home in my home shell as I sometimes refer to it as. I have been awake for all but a dozen or so of the last 72 hours. Yet I wake and I can not fall back asleep. I’ve committed to waiting until I fall back asleep and then staying in bed at least 6 more hours, even if it cuts into sightseeing in Paris on Tuesday. Until that sleep comes I write. There are a multitude of projects that I could be working on at this exact moment in time. I have a book that’s about half done. I have a few short stories in the works at Jimzshorts. I have a half a dozen or so longer posts in my drafts waiting to be launched. None of those feel right in the moment so I return to the place where I began in October of 2011. New blog posts from Paris.
Little did I know when I published my first ever blog posts during my trip to Paris in October of 2011 that I would now be back in the same city three and a half years later married to the girl of my dreams and carrying the ashes of one of the finest friends I have ever know. And yet here I am hundreds of blog posts later. And yet here I am a completely different person than I was back then. And yet here I am at what is now 3:00 a.m. Paris time sitting on my couch at the Residences Henri the IV in the Louis the XIII room – room number 22. How lucky am I?
I had countless human experiences in my first 15 hours in Paris. I have commuted on the Metro. I’ve seen fountains like the one in Saint Michele. I’ve eaten fondue. I’ve photographed the Cathedral at Notre Dame from every angle possible. I have sipped a Kronenberg beer while looking at that same fountain later in the day. I’ve drank some rose while sitting of the balcony of my Fifth Arrondissement suite that they gave us because a little bird friend might have told the clerk we were on a second honeymoon. I’ve walked along the banks of the Seine river. I’ve had an expresso with a single packet of sugar in a non distinct cafe near the Seine river that un-benounced to us turned out to be called Richard’s Cafe. I’ve quite literally stood on my head in the center of Paris on the medallion in front of Notre Dame. Christiana and I have rode a teeter-totter in a park on the Right Bank. I’ve browsed the shelves of the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore only to buy nothing. Instead while I was there I sat in a chair in the upstairs window and looked out that window mesmerized by the moment I was drinking in.
I’d show you a photo of that moment, but the signs everywhere in the bookstore said No Photograhs Sil Vous Plait. Even though nobody was watching I felt compelled to honor the rules. So instead I put in my headphones and listened to a song I have been moved by lately. I put the song on a playlist called Paris 2015. I put that playlist on my phone minutes before our Uber car picked us up for the airport. The song is by a group called Above and Beyond and the song is called Home. Coincidence?
There are so many connections for me to that word Home for me right now. I travel from my home many miles away even though I so desperately need my shell. I feel a sense of home already in my little suite at the Henri the IV hotel in Arrondissement V. I feel at home on the couch in the Louis the XIII room as I can’t sleep. I am about to share an experience with my wife and Rhonda that will likely transcend any experience I have had yet on this planet as we deliver Richard to his last desired Home. I will take many photos along the way and yet there will be times that I can not take photos, like that moment in time yesterday afternoon.
So as I sat in the second floor window at the Shakespeare and Company book store listening to my Ipod, instead of taking out my Iphone and snapping a photo, I took out my moleskin and wrote. Here’s what I said:
I sit in the second floor window in front of a vintage typewriter on a tattered wooden desk and I imagine.
I imagine days when Hemingway and Pound and Miller might have sat in this exact same window overlooking these exact same two towers of Notre Dame.
I imagine how I might describe this photo in my mind that I am not allowed to take.
There is a image of a young man in horned rimmed glasses in an chipped, gold painted wooden frame that hangs on the inside sill of the window.
He could be anybody. He could be a student. He looks like a young Stephen Hawking which reminds me that all minds have Infinite potential. Including mine.
The chair at the desk is torn, black velvet fabric. It’s torn like a cat’s claws have visited it many times in its years at the desk with the vintage typewriter. My suspicion is confirmed as a fat white cat brushes against my right leg.
Six panes of glass make up the two-door French window that looks out across at a flower box full of dead leaves. The flower box stands in front of the view of budding Plane trees. Notre Dame Cathedral cuts sharply into the grey Spring skies.
A mirror over my left shoulder shows human me in a black trench coat. I feel deeply. The mirror shows me a reflection of where my soul is traveling. I’m excited. I’m grieving. I’m overwhelmed. I’m tired. I’m confused. I am so totally alive. I weep again…