Monday, July 14, 2008

A Tale of Two Cities

I have returned. I'm back but in recovery -- in a coma after blowing through how many different timezones and way too many planes, trains and automobiles. I now need to be idle and not drag a piece of luggage anywhere for a while. Thankfully, I have been given a reprieve from my Toronto trip that was planned for later this week, so I plan to go absolutely nowhere now for as long as I can possibly get away with it.

Still, I had a terrific trip. Three days in London, three days in Paris....working most of the time, but a nice change of venue all the same.

London offered mostly rainy days, which I generally despise.....but the familiar, ever present grayness that hangs in the air there almost felt like a welcoming friend. What I notice about the rain in London is that it's so inconsequential. People don't seem to change their lives over it. They don't walk faster, they don't run for cover, they don't appear to be inconvenienced by it much at all. I really like that about Londoners. They say you can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle a rainy day. Kudos to the Brits, who kept right on with their business at hand even as the rain came down.

My regrets about my trip to London are that I had too little time, I spent too much of it working, and I managed to blow in and out of town without scoring a single scone. Blast that!

And then there was Paris. Again, I spent most of my time locked in conference rooms (and rightfully so, since someone else was paying for me to be there). But I did manage to eek out some time on Friday evening. I slipped out of my business suit, put on a lovely strappy, flowy maxi dress and went out for a date with Paris, the city. Magnifique!

It was, however, express dating, as they say. I did as much with Paris as I could in 7 hours, but I can't say we got to know each other all that well. Still, I managed to enjoy our time together.... the Champs Elysees, the Louvre, the Seine, the Left Bank, St. Honore and Rue Royal...all done before the sun set. I worked up an appetite for steak poivre and a summer rose wine in a small brasserie, where I sat alone and had a lovely dinner by myself, feeling very French all the while.

And I wonder if I didn't also somehow look French that evening -- I had 4 or 5 different people approach me and ask me for directions...all in French. It made me laugh, as that always seems to happen to me, no matter where I am. People seem to think I must know the way to wherever it is they're wanting to go....somehow I must look like I know where I'm going, even when that couldn't be further from the truth.

I went to bed that night with the blue lights of the Eiffel Tower glowing through my window. I stared at it for a while, thinking about how lucky I was to have someone actually send me there -- to a place that people dream about seeing but may never actually get there. And here I was, turning out my lights and saying goodnight to it, which felt a little indulgent on my part. Who am I to turn off my lights on Paris? Still, I had a flight to catch the next day, and it had been a tiring I said 'Bon Nuit' to the City, blew it a good night French kiss and hit the hay.

And so I have returned.

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