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Jewish Childhood - Final Sunday in Paris-Chopin and Conversation
Sunday, 11 August 2013 21:40

I arrive at Luxembourg Gardens 45 minutes before the Chopin concert with Francois Demont, piano. All chairs are taken.

I am by a busy snack kiosk sitting in between two people on my left, an elderly woman, and on my right, a couple looking at a map of Paris.

I will not face Chopin but have my back to him. Not meaning any disrespect but after all, a seat within listening distance is a blessing.

I see no hope in getting closer. My deal with Chopin seemed ill fated. First, I get there too late, and it rains, and well this is number three. I find the task scouring the Gardens for just one chair. Just be here now. There has to be a reason. There is something to learn.

The park is very busy. The first sunny day in weeks, well one other day, as evidenced with me wearing an Aloha shirt, with my friend, Sherry.

It's good hearing the music of the French language. Listening to all the voices, children with comments and demands, two older women, probably my age. I have no desire to figure out words or messages. I just want the music of the language while I await Chopin.

Smart phone in my pocket, I take it out to capture a few reminders of the Gardens for when I go home.

Too late to get a chair

Chopin at distance.

Yorkie forms a question mark.


Mother and daughter

A slight breeze in the Gardens

No need for anything else.

Dog sightings: one very small Yorkshire terrier, black lab, wire hair terrier, doxie, black Paris dog, greyhound.

The bench thins out. I formally meet an 89 year-old woman. She tells me her name en francais, Le Solliec Raymounde. She lives in the 13th arr. With my fifth grade French, we ask each other questions and the music begins, chords wafting toward us. Although somewhat hard to understand each with each, it is an effort that brings us closer. This could be me in 17 years, alone in Paris and Chopin.

We are about 100 or more feet away from the music. At a distance once in a while we hear notes. She settled here right after the war, after the Americans landed in Normandy, she tells me. She has two sons, one in Bordeaux and one in Normandy.

Solliec lives alone. She writes her address, and by this time two others have joined us on our bench, a woman and her son, probably in his 30s, the woman a teacher who is able to weave a more complete conversation. I give both of the women my card. Sylvie and her son, Alain, give me their addresses, and her son gives me his phone number.

All three of us take a vow: To meet, l'anne prochaine here for Chopin. Here on this park bench. They, all three, leave and sadness comes over me. I will leave in two days. In that minute I want to pray for more time. There is so much I would like to do. One thing, when I return home I will send them postcards from my other favorite city, Santa Fe.

I find myself humming Eleanor Rigby and am thankful that my life is rich and full, not void, hollow and full of loss.

It's time for dinner.  Sushi.  But first I walk over to see the Queens of France. This afternoon in the Gardens when shape shifters dressed as queens, stand at attention, hearts frozen. Still from the other side I catch one of them out of the corner of my eye, dance again with me, just once more. I hear the words clear, and this time in English. I vow to continue this conversation when I return. It is said that one writes about a place when one leaves it.  So Queens of France, See you in Santa Fe.

Thanks for taking this Sunday trip with me and for reading my Jewish Childhood Blog. After all, childhood is just an arbitrary landscape. Enjoy these few Queens in Luxembourg Gardens.  Click here: Paris - Luxembourg Quarter: Jardin du Luxembourg - Statue de Sainte Genevieve | Flickr - Photo Sharing!