11/09/2009

I confess: I went to Paris. Again.

I know I was conspicuously absent — from this blog and from my "normal" life — October 4-21. And now I'm 'fessing up.

It was the siren song of Paris, calling me back.

Back, you ask? Yes, back. Mom and I went to Paris in late April. That trip was every cliche you can say about a mother-daughter adventure in Paris. I didn't blog about it for just that reason: nothing I could say hadn't already been said, nothing I could write would do it justice.

But I also kept it a secret from the blog and from the greater public because that first trip was made up of a string of surprising and intensely private moments that...shifted...me somehow. It awakened me in ways that I didn't know I needed and taught me some lessons about the way I'd been living, the dreams I'd been hanging onto and the cage I'd been keeping myself in for the past 10 years.

I'm not going to go into detail because it wasn't all pretty and it was so subjective that if I wrote about it or told you about it you'd probably say, "Is that all?" and wonder why what moved me moved me and you'd be disappointed. Let's just call it tough love from The City of Love. You can use your imagination (which will probably be a lot more exciting than what really happened).

Anyway, all summer I tried to go about my life. But my normal walks weren't enough...so I started running, topping 6 miles by August (not bad for a new asthmatic). Normal house cleaning wasn't enough...I purged the thing, digging through every closet and drawer and nook and cranny and ending up with five truckloads of stuff to take to the thrift store. Normal summer cooking wasn't enough...I decided that the only bread I would eat had to be homemade and the only produce I would eat would be hyper-local.

But nothing I did could make me forget Paris.

So one day in late August, sweaty and blistered and limping after running for miles, I made a decision. It was a revelation, really. I was free. I had no ties, no responsibilities other than my cats and my house. And here was the ouch: I was the only one keeping myself in my cage. So I raided my savings account, bought a plane ticket, contacted some friends I'd made during the first trip and started planning. I asked my courageous and dear friend Ursula to house-and-kitty sit for me. I left right after playing for a wedding and would return 17 days later, just in time to play for another wedding.

I didn't have any expectations of the trip other than "exploring possibilities." Despite the kind of obsessed craziness I exhibited over the summer, I'd made some great personal strides (more stamina, a lighter possession load, better health thanks to all that homemade bread and a clearer mind after all that jostling from running), and I was open and ready for anything.

And everything is what I got. In ways I never could have expected, of course, which is the beautiful thing about going into something with no expectations. I did learn about my independence, my strength, my excellent communication skills despite my abysmal French, my confidence, my beauty (thanks to the guy in the Louvre who complimented me and then magically disappeared, leaving me stunned and teary-eyed in front of a Michaelangelo). And, strangely, I learned even more about my freedom.

It was an artistically productive trip, too. I was by myself most of the time and, because of said abysmal French, not doing a lot of talking (except to order another hot chocolate). I was inside my own mind and listening to the words coming up from my soul and the music my heart was playing for me. And so I started writing.

I filled up an entire journal while drinking all those hot chocolates in cafes (yes, the cafes are as charming as everyone says). I started writing music and ended up with a song for Prima Vox...

...composed with the help of a rickety piano upstairs at
Shakespeare and Company bookstore...

...and in a harp in a shop under the Arc de Triomphe. That piece will be performed at my holiday concert November 28th and Prima Vox's Fire & Ice concert December 19th.

I also did plenty of wandering.
Walked miles and miles along the Seine in fashionable shoes.
(All that running came in handy.)

I cried in front of statues.
Like this one, Cupid and Psyche by Antonio Canova.
I consider it the symbol of my awakening.

I went to Notre Dame. A lot.
Heard vespers. Walked around reverently.
Breathed in the incense.
Knelt on that 700-year-old floor and prayed.

Lit candles. Lots of them.

Frolicked with unicorns.
(Doesn't he look like Harry the Cat?)

Went to concerts at the Musée de Cluny, Sainte-Chapelle, Notre Dame.

Went to a wedding show with Kim Petyt, an American wedding planner in Paris.
Saw a harpist wearing something I hope I never think is a good idea to wear.
And yes, her harp lights up.

Dreamed about where I'd live...

...you know...

...if I decided to sell my house and what's left of my possessions
and pack up three cats and four harps and my good silverware
and move to Paris.

Like I said, exploring possibilities.

I can't say I figured out what exactly the Parisian pull was, or why I needed to go back so desperately or even what my next step is after coming home (reluctantly). I'm sure with time it will all sink in and unravel and get clearer. For now, I am still reveling in having escaped my normal life and flown from my self-imposed cage, if only for a while.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this adventure will continue to inform and inspire my artistic endeavors. Already I've turned that inspiration into a concert of French carols and my new original music on November 28th. That journal I filled up? Lots of stories waiting to be finished. Lots of poetry that may even see the light of day sometime (eeek).

My heart? My mind? My soul?

Afire.

Vive le Paris.

2 comments:

  1. If I said things like "I *heart* this"--you know, if I did--I would say it here.

    But I don't, so I'll say I love it. And miss you.

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  2. Wow! What a moving piece...and as an artist myself who has had a similar experience, I can somewhat understand the inspiration and thoughts you are feeling.

    In addition to your musical talents, you are also a gifted writer. I'll be frequenting your blog more often! Now if I could just find time to get to one of your performances.

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