PARIS/The Chorus

by Cathy Arden on November 25, 2012

As you will begin to notice, this blog is not just about my dog, Didion, or the reality of the current dog park in my life, or the long goodbye to my mother that so far has spanned eight years. It is also about what brought me to this place & the relationships along the way.  Married once, engaged thrice, I’ve had my share of the unnerving, undocumented,  unconscious, unexpected, unwitting, unwilling, and unbelievable. I’ve been both undone & reconstituted.  Somewhere along the journey, I discovered that my resourcefulness & just plain dumb courage & stamina got me through both the brilliant dreams & horrific nightmares, & sprung  me back into an upright position.  I am two feet on the proverbial ground now, albeit the actual ground sometimes rumbles under my feet given I’ve chosen to live in earthquake territory. I just don’t seem to choose the easy path. If, as Robert Frost professed, two roads diverged in a yellow wood, I chose the third that had not been cleared yet, the one without trail blazes or markers. I never did like anyone telling me which way to turn.

And now I have returned to Paris, my home 11 years ago.  I had moved here some years after my divorce, and after I broke off an engagement to a Hungarian artist who was not rooted in this world.  A romance with a tragic end.  My children were 8 and 12 at the time.  So much has not changed here in Paris, which is one of the things I can count on.  I know just where to go, where to find my favorite stores and rejoice they have survived the years. I still walk the streets & cry – not from sadness, but with joy.  I am staying in my old neighborhood, near Parc Monceau, on rue Levis, an open air market street.  I swear the butcher I bought chicken from this week is the same one I bought chicken from 11 years ago. He looked at me and did a double take. Lo and behold, I’m speaking French, and understanding what is being said to me. Mostly. My children would be proud.

Parc Monceau. My life in Paris began with the tall, black gold-tipped iron gate.   The first time I saw the gate, at the end of August in 2000, I was approaching it, running.   Remember the shock of your first time moving from Dorothy’s black and white Kansas into the full color of Oz?  I hadn’t known it, but apparently I had become accustomed to black and white and then, as if to prepare me for what was to come, the sun was reflecting off the bright gold tips.  I was looking up at the flashes of light and gold as I ran through the open gate.   I didn’t  slow down, or pause, or lose my stride.  This was the chorus during that year in Paris with my children.  It was the center of the song.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Iris December 7, 2012 at 10:19 PM

Such a beautiful memory. It transports me to the Paris I visited for the first time in 1976. I can’t quite hear a song, but I can clearly see the view from Sacre Coeur.


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