We’d had a busy day of sightseeing. Time to put our feet up for a bit before dinner.
But through the paper-thin walls of our little Paris apartment was a pounding beat and the falcetto of the Gibb brothers.
No kidding. The Bees Gees.
We couldn’t have an accomplished cellist or even an accordion player next door. We had to draw a disco fan.
So the visions in our heads of Montmartre with spellbinding Sacre Coeur, the artists on the nearby square, the hilly avenues and the Moulin Rouge, are now playing to the backdrop of “Stayin’ Alive”.
So we listened and we chuckled. We imagined a bunch of French people next door jabbing their pointed fingers in the air then to the floor in rhythmic unity with the Bee Gees.
Our sightseeing targets had been far flung. The Paris Metro was our friend, whisking us first from our apartment near the Louvre to the beautiful basilica of Sacre Coeur.
Montmartre is my new “Happy Place”. A spiritual peak. First with the moving mosaic ceiling of Sacre Coeur and its Catholic busyness below. Then with the streets teeming with artists painting portraits of tourists and Paris landmarks. Liza decided romantically to starve there someday as so many artists and writers have through its history.
We wound our way down the steep backstreets to the Café des 2 Moulins – a diner made famous by the film, Amelie, a favorite of ours both. I loved watching Liza take in every detail of the place, inventorying what was familiar, a smirk of recognition as she’d recall a scene. The patrons included a few locals mixed with fans of the film who’d made the pilgrimage and shyly snuck photos with their cell phones.
At the bottom of the hill for us rested the world-famous Moulin Rouge. Another film reference for young Liza, who pointed out the apartment across the street where the poet in the film lived. It occurred to me that a city like this one takes shape in our minds from so many books and movies. Maybe that’s why Paris seems like an old friend even to a new visitor.
We easily slid into the Metro on a quest for the Eiffel Tower. We got off at Les Invalides, which required a trek through a quiet neighborhood where we tripped on a boulangerie we couldn’t resist. There I was non-verbally abused by a Frenchwoman who didn’t appreciate my pointing at her macarons. I was only asking “Vanille?” “Pistache?” “Citron?” She almost slapped my hand.
Then we found ourselves at the base of the Eiffel Tower. Where Liza got to sit.
Liza is a sitter. Ever since she was a toddler, she enjoyed sitting and people-watching. When we would take the four kids to Disneyland, the oldest kids would go out on their own, John would take Louis, and I would take little Liza. The other kids wanted wild rides. Liza wanted to sit in the town square. Just sit. Cross her legs. Gaze. Munch on a pretzel. Just sit. That’s Liza.
So we sat. And laughed and chatted. We ate our precious macarons and took pictures of the two left gloves I’d brought. It was divine.
The Metro delivered us home after that. We’d covered some ground and were in danger of disturbing our commitment to relaxation. To get things back on track, and to get past the Bee Gees next door, we decided to take a short nap before dinner.
When we woke up, it was 9:30. Yikes. I woke Liza. “Are you hungry?”
“OK. Let’s go.”
I’m dressed in two seconds. Low standards. Coat on = ready to go.
And she hasn’t moved.
“Honey, are you hungry?”
“I could go either way. Everything’s open until 2am, so it’s your call.”
Pause. “I guess I’m really not hungry.”
“OK, no problem. I’m good. Nighty night.”
I crawled back into my warm bed and started to write.
A few minutes later, I heard a little voice.
“Are you mad at me?”
“God, no!” I hop up and run out to kiss her. “I just don’t care if we eat or not. Are you hungry?”
“Yes. I kind of am.”
What the…. Then it dawned on me. “Do you want me to go get you something to eat?”
“You would do that for me?”
“Heck yeah! I’ll do anything you like!” And I kissed her whole face until she giggled. “Have you forgotten what a cool mom I am?”
And I went out into the beautiful Paris night -such a sacrifice – to find food for my baby.
I found a perfect little pizza place with “Pizza Pour Aller” and I was set.
A bottle of red wine to make it perfect and Liza and I had a cozy dinner together in our little flat.
I’ll never forget it.
(And I venture to guess, neither will she.)