Friday, 12 July 2013

Time travel, awesome short stories, people bonking in the room upstairs

A couple of times I thought I saw her. A skinny thing with cropped hair, rushing somewhere, her dreams in light clouds behind her.

Or her nose in a book in Shakespeare & Co, poring over every word.

Or strutting about, trying to look as though she owned the place.
 
Ahh, I remember Paris. We all remember Paris. For Paris represents the dreams we all had as young glistening things. Dreams of writing or dancing, of travelling, of lovers. These dreams were the stuff we had in our heads before we had kids and bills, husbands, dogs to vaccinate, homework to supervise, gardens to weed.

My old personal library
Are our kids as hopelessly dreamy as we were? I'm not sure they are. They are hardier, they read less books. And the way they wander into other worlds - it is not through words and books but through the vast and savvy internet, a concept that might have seemed like time travel to those of us who grew up pushing coins into public telephones and making party music mixes on cassettes.


Do you remember cassettes? Yes, cassettes. How about getting the tape caught in a crap recorder and having to reel in the slinky coils of songs. Hoping you didn't lose your David Bowie or Talking Heads.


Ahh, it is good to remember Paris.

I went there as a young thing, a silly au pair in a smelly cul de sac that has become prime real estate now. A posh architect's office downstairs (they are international stars I am told) where before there were Indian sweatshops and a cranky concierge. To think I was living there when Christo covered Pont Neuf in silk cloth. Does anyone remember that? Now, what an event!

vegan cajou cremeux at café pinson
It's different now. Pricey. Snooty. Trashy. Vegan. Pricey. Still so much to love. The leafy squares, and picnicking so much in vogue. The ever-cranky waiters and big glass bowls of Belgian Leffe beer. The avenues, though the traffic seems wilder than ever before. The bridges, the sunlit stone bridges. Lovers in your path, thinking they are lost and new. Even those in the cheap hotel room upstairs, a see-sawing screeching of the bed, then those sighs. (How satisfied the young dude seems at breakfast with his many piercings and immense appetite. She doesn't show so I will have to imagine her.)

Neverchanging




In the train I meet a beautiful Estonian woman who is thinking of going raw - as in raw food only. In the airport I read the most wonderful stories of James Salter for the very first time.


16 comments:

  1. Don't give in, girl! Trick is to pass on the dream--something I think is more appropriately named "charm." Took our kids there when they were just old enough to LOVE it and...they did--all of it. Yeah, they're of that generation of text-obsessed gamers, but they read a bunch too, and now they are infected...with the dream of going back. They bug us about it every summer. And the parents, well, the parents can dream of a Fulbright, or their 30th, or well, retirement somewhere other than the land of the Cuspidor...

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    1. Not giving in just drowning/heeling through/wondering. Thanks for the comment, Tim. It's not easy to pass on the Paris-glazed dream as my kids have travelled much, much more than I had at their ages. I'm talking Ethiopia, Cote d'Ivoire, Paris in their Dad's fancy digs. One of them grew up speaking Amharic - I mean Amharic! So their dreams are very different, intangible. Music mostly. I'm glad your kids bug you to take them back. I am bugging mine to read the Russians!

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  2. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful post. Sang straight into my heart.

    P.S. I also remember video cassettes, and writing "DO NOT TAPE OVER" in big letters on post-it notes stuck onto them, so that favourite shows were not recorded over with, say, cricket matches...

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    1. Glad you liked Hannah, you fellow exile and vegan lover you!

      Do you realise I have a cupboard upstairs full of 'Wiggles' cassettes I dragged all over Africa for my then small boys (now suitably crazy young men) and still remember a certain A with a dinosaur tail dancing around the house? Oh, the 'Wiggles'! Jeff's purple skivvy! And Murray in - what? Yellow??

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    2. I was never a Wiggles child, but I think Murray was yellow? The blue one got depression, right? All I really remember is "Wake up Jeff! Everybody's wiggling! Wake up Jeff! We really need you!" and "Hot potato, hot potato..."

      xo

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    3. Oh goodness yes! Wake up Jeff!! I've heard they are still performing too. And urban legend had it that they were once a band called the Cockroaches who played Sydney pubs - until they found a more lucrative audience! Could this be true??

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  3. Condensed Paris - didn't think it could be done, but you potted it! Brilliant post.

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    1. Ha! Did I mention the champagne_on-tap at the trade fair?? Asleep with my eyes open around 5pm? (We ladies start cocktails early you see..) I love your new gravatar. Have to check it out!

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  4. Catherine you bring back so many memories. Yes I remember music cassettes and much more. I am so grateful that I was born when I was and was raised when I was. My childhood was such a happy innocent one. I feel kids now days miss out on that innocence. But. That is all they know so I guess it is ok. Your blogs always make me think Lyn

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    1. Yes it was different then, wasn't it? And our parents probably thought we were in danger of being dissolute and lacking culture! I also had a safe, simpler upbringing - we were so happy with our BMX bikes and exploring in the bush. And yet, I've become a worrier too - and wouldn't let mine do half the things I got away with!
      Glad you enjoyed the post xcat

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  5. You capture my Paris so well. I had some wonderful times there in the 80s and 90s.

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    1. Yes I think it's weird/fun to revisit the 80s. My gosh if I think what that skinny au pair used to wear about town! Those shoulders! That hair! Those earrings! What were we thinking? But what fun, eh?

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  6. Ah...what a wonderful post. I felt like I was right there with you. Some day I hope to visit Paris and embrace all the pricey, snooty, trashy, vegan parts and make a few memories of my own. And yes, I remember cassettes. Was it really that long ago?
    BTW--is it a sign of senility when the decades begin to blur in your head?
    hope you're getting some good writing done this summer.
    xoxo
    Leslie

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    1. You would love Paris, Leslie. There is so much beauty - layers of history and lives. You can walk forever and never tire. I'm always drawn back to Paris, which is the first city I fell in love with as a adult. It never changes - but you do!

      Zero writing so far despite my very earnest intentions. But lots of good white wine and garden-watering.. xxcat

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  7. Oh La La you took me right back to my very dreamy backpacking days, yes head in the clouds and never wanted to come down. Yes I remember all those things you mentioned especially the cassette tapes, I had hundreds and would tape songs from the radio arghhh!

    I look forward to the days when our children will set off on an adventure NOT!

    loved your post as always and it's so good to be back on line and catching up with everyone again xxx

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    1. Oh gosh I also did some serious travelling back in the day! On our first trip we spent most of our time in art galleries or supermarkets to fight the cold And I believe I brought home six pairs of shoes after my very first Eurail trip. I don't think I knew my way around Europe then, or appreciated the loveliness of sitting in bars for hours with one café.

      Later we became disco babes who used to dance all night and catch the first metro home. I quite liked that!

      Good to have you back Lisa and hope everything is cool! xxcat

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