Tim leaves for Paris on Wednesday. He’s got his bags packed already, having assembled all the appropriate clothes and accessories this weekend. This is the Mens Trip, a present Tim’s father gave to himself on the occasion of his something-th birthday. All the men are going, eight of them, one short of a Fellowship, two too many for a game of shinny.
To be fair, they’re not just going to Paris, though that’s the focus of my angst. They’re going to Munich, Paris and London, with some points in between. I’m not interested in Munich, and expect I’ll someday to go London with my daughter, but the Paris part of the trip hits especially hard.
It’s jealousy, pure and simple. The first jab is the fact that I love to travel. “The three most exciting sounds in the world are anchor chains, plane motors, and train whistles.” I’d be on the road all the time if I didn’t have something tethering me to the earth. Plus, all those years I studied French, learned all about Paris, I dreamed about wandering the Left Bank, seeing Ile de la Cite, sitting on the steps near the Sacre Coeur. Then Tim gave me that Christmas gift of the video of our lock being put on Pont des Arts, and suddenly Paris became *our* city, a place we were destined to go together.
But now he’s going with his father and brother and brother in law and nephews and sons.
He’s the only one who speaks French, and even at that, he doesn’t speak much.
It’s a hard pill to swallow, this one. It’s a bitter French pill.
I have a whole bunch of things planned for the two weeks they’re gone: work, concerts, movies in the park, working at the farm, making cheese, letting the dog sleep on my bed. My daughter’s going to expand her seafood repertoire (Tim’s allergic, so she abstains out of respect). I’m even going salsa dancing on the night Tim leaves.
But in between my frenetic activity, I’ll hear from Tim in Europe, and see pictures he sends, and I’ll remember where he is and I am not; on the banks of the Seine, gazing at Notre Dame in the fading light, strains of Jacques Brel crooning roughly in the distance, the air filled with the scent of baguettes and petite cigarettes, Tim mixing his verb tenses as he incorrectly informs his family members about the history of the city.
Even with that last bit, I wish I were going to Paris. le sigh. Maybe I’ll throw in a trip or two to the ocean. That’ll show him.