S. Lee Manning: This round, all of us Rogues are individually answering the question: If I could be anywhere and do anything, what would it be? Well, in my case, I’d be exactly where I am now. I’m writing this blog ten days before my flight, but by the time you read it, I’ll be there. Paris.
Assuming all goes to plan, I am spending my mornings writing in a café near the apartment that we’re renting in the Marais. I am sipping cappuccinos and nibbling on pastries while scenes and dialogue flow from my mind through my fingertips and onto the computer screen. Then, after getting down an astonishingly great few pages, I spend my afternoons and evenings exploring the city of lights and trying to improve my very basic French. I am with the man I love who’s been by my side, if you count the time before our marriage, for 36 years.
|A bistro in Paris at night.
It doesn’t get better than this.
Oh, yeah, there is the question of reality. I’m writing this before my arrival in the city. Will the pages actually get written, and will they actually be amazing? Or will I get up in the morning and say, screw writing, I’m in Paris. Will I spend a month eating French pastries and balloon up twenty pounds? Will I be trying to write at a table outside while Europeans light up and cigarette smoke blows over me? Will there be terrorism scares? Will the apartment we rented sight unseen actually be charming and not cramped and a little too small for two big people – and will the bed feel like sleeping on cement? Will my husband and I argue over whether we go shopping or go to the Louvre?
All is quite possible in the real world.
But screw reality. This blog is about fantasy fulfillment.
There is something about Paris and writing. Woody Allen explored it a little in his movie, Midnight in Paris. There is a certain – je ne sais quoi – about the idea of writing in a city where so many have written – a city with so much richness in culture and history.
|At the Seine, with the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
There is something about just being in Paris. We were there just around a year ago, traveling with our daughter, who flew out from LA to join us. We visited the Tour Eiffel and Notre Dame in our winter coats, because that April was amazingly cold. But there was still the charm – and the magic. The cafes – the bistros – the pastries….
I didn’t even make a token effort to write last year. We were traveling every few days. I didn’t schlep my computer to Europe because I had enough to carry, and I knew I wouldn’t be writing. I did scribble some notes here and there, sort of a travel diary, although I wasn’t consistent even with that. There was just too much to do and too much to see.
Last year was something of a sampling menu. We took small bites of London, Paris, Beaune, Lyon, Arles, Avignon, Nice, Cannes, Dublin, and the wild Atlantic coast of Ireland. All wonderful, but not enough time to really feel a part of any of the places we visited.
|Jenny and Jim last year on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.
This trip to Paris is different. Three weeks should be enough time to get a real feel of what the city is like. Hopefully, I am relaxed enough about being here to be comfortable, and motivated enough, to spend time writing as well as exploring. After all, these are two of my favorite things to do.
And this time, it’s just the two of us. It’s different traveling just with my husband. I love my children, and I like traveling with them, but there’s something about three weeks in the city of love with just my husband that is pretty damn good.
Of course, my next fantasy is about renting a castle in Scotland. In this fantasy, both my kids, with their significant others, join us. I spend mornings writing and the afternoons exploring Scotland with my family. I produce an amazing novel. No one argues with anyone. Everyone has a fabulous experience.
Aren’t fantasies wonderful?
Postscript: May 18. I’m in Paris in an absolutely charming apartment, with a comfortable bed and a view of the Paris streets and rooftops. We have been exploring the city non-stop, and I’m walking between 5 and 7 miles a day, so although I’m eating enough French pastries and French cooking to otherwise put on the pounds, my weight has been stable. We’ve had wonderful experiences, and we’ve managed to hold limited conversations in French. Yesterday, I holed up with my computer in a little cafe close to the Picasso museum, sipping espresso and nibbling on a heavenly piece of lemon tart dusted with white powdered sugar. I finished a chapter while jazz music played. Jim will be taking a cooking class at the Cordon Bleu today while I ensconce myself in a cafe close to the apartment and hope for another good writing day. C’est magnifique
|View from our apartment in Paris.
Waving to you from Paris.