06 March, 2008
day ten. paris.
i had the loveliest time in paris on wednesday. michelle, her belgian friend jan, and i hopped on the metro, destination an art store by the louvre. my jet lag took its sweet old time kicking in, but it did kick in. i have been going to bed about 4am every night, despite my best efforts, and waking up around noon. a healthy 8 hours, but ones that make me feel like i have lost too much of my day. maybe its a small difference, but i am a 2-10 kind of girl.
we set out late, needing a meal. michelle suggested the cafe that overlooks the courtyard of the louvre. amazing! that it was a crisp bright afternoon only helped. i have had enough rain on this trip. after coffee and omelets, we headed over the river to sennelier, one of the oldest, if not the oldest, art supply stores in the city. when i was in highschool, i worked for an artist in her supply store and frame shop. just weekends, part time in the summer. i wasnt the most elegant framer and didnt have the best bedside manner (it was my experience, that people really just want you to tell them what they want in a frame and mat), but i loved it. for the craft of it, for the feeling of being at the center of a scene of artists, for my time with paula, the artist. it was the closest i got in highschool to approximating what my life as an artist could be. playing house at 17 with paints and pastels, frame chops, mats and glass.
walking into sennelier couldnt have made me happier. the store is tiny, on three floors, with nooks and crannies filled with the best art supplies you can buy. the cabinets are old and worn, shelves reached by rolling ladders, the staff dressed in long white coats. michelle's partner, david, is a painter and was looking for a duplicate to a brush he'd bought in the same store a few years before. apparently it was such a unique brush, that it had become central to his technique, and he was thinking he ought to have more than one. it made me think about, what if my guitars wore out. you invest so much time in the instrument, the guitar molds itself to you, taking up the oils of your hands, wearing where your fingers play it most, and in turn you mold yourself to the guitar. your style changes to get the best out of the instrument. yes, i could totally understand needing another brush. unfortunately the store didnt have another one and we left disappointed.
next, it was my turn to direct the tour and my single wish for being in paris this day (because i have done the tourist stuff other times) was to make a pilgrimmage to gertrude steins house. i didnt even need to look up the address, having known it by heart and whispered it to myself many times, to hear how it rolls off the tongue. 27 rue de fleurus. we easily found it on the map and walked to it from sennelier, down the rue de seine. the next time i go back to paris, rue de seine is the first place i am going. what an amazing street. gallery after gallery with such amazing art in the windows, on the corners, cafes, and then ending in the luxembourg palace and gardens. rue de fleurus was just a block and half from the park. as we rounded the corner to the house, i felt a twinge in my stomach. places matter to me. to stand in the same spot, especially a quotidian spot like the street someone lives on, is profound to me. we found the house, which has only a simple marker- it still being private apartments- to let you know its signifigance. i kissed the entrance way and michelle took a picture. that's all i needed!
we stopped for chocolate at a nearby cafe then headed to the pompidou center for the spectacular view of paris from the top. we considered eating dinner on the roof, but decided to head down to the square for a more terrestrial setting. at that moment, looking out over paris at night, pointing out landmarks, enjoying the air, i was happy. happy to have had a day with michelle and jan, happy to be away from home. as i said before paris somehow was feeling right to me.