THE MAYBE CHRONICLES
I know in the current economic climate this may sound rather frothy, not to mention irremediably yuppy, but here goes: I want to go to Paris.
Let me restate this: I want to go to Paris!
I’ve wanted to go since, well, age 20, when one after another college friend returned with conversational French dripping off their tongues. But now I’m a wife, a mom, a stepmom with the prodigal stepson to cook for, not to mention neck-deep in a Sisyphean pharmacy internship which so far has taken over three years. I can’t go. Not now. Not this year with the Bar Mitzvah coming up, with braces for my son (so yuppy). The usual, on and on. Paris is out. Not in 2011. Not 2012.
And yet, my stepson Matt is 31, old enough to cook for the 12-year-old. Not to mention keep an eye on him, not a problem since they're forever playing Xbox in the basement, laughing at "Seinfeld" reruns. Our relationship is mostly one of sounds-drifting-up-to -the-kitchen variety.
And my husband, with his new job, well he’s hardly around. Really, if I simply skipped town for a few short days, say, 10, would anyone actually notice? And maybe if I didn’t tell them, just quietly left, you know, sort of called from the airport, no not Newark, Paris, and said something like, “Hi, guys, no big deal, but I couldn’t wait any longer, the hip isn’t getting much better, so I figured now is the time to climb those steps. Huh? Oh, sorry, of the Eiffel Tower. Let’s see, what else, oh, I did make two weeks worth of a Bolognese sauce, it’s in the downstairs freezer, and Ben, I left money in an envelope for two weeks of school lunches, you’re always telling me their lunches are better anyway, and well, I guess that’s it, I’ll call you in a few days. Adieu, mon cheri.“
And I’m off, couch-surfing through the third arrondissement, a lone menopausal woman attempting this free-style travel invention of the cash-strapped young. Sure it takes till noon for the crimped neck to straighten out, but it’s worth it. So far I’ve strolled through Le Marais, sampled the Opera Nationale de Paris, eaten crepes that are preternaturally tissue thin, croissants with wondrously flaky skin, and oh the macaroons, so much better than in Montclair or even NYC, with that line two avenues long. And at night, such sweet luxury, reading in a café, not Starbucks or Barnes and Noble, which freezes the arm hairs straight up, but a warm, cozy café, with men my age in berets and women in brightly printed scarves.
And then, unbeknownst to me, in some existential turn of events, I decide to stay. To study French, to become fluent, to rent a flat, sort of an “eat, pray, love” for the older set, we’ll call it “heat, gray, Louvre.“ To read every Henry Miller book I’ve never read before. Not just Sexus, but Nexus and gloriously, even Plexus.
I hear the Bar Mitzvah goes well, they decide on a kid’s party anyway. Never even missed seeing the family except for the kiddush, which was cheap, just a few bagels and challah. Lox spread kept down the cost.
When I first return home everyone is really nice to me. Sort of polite in a walking on eggshells kind of way. You could almost call it respect. My son Ben has a conversation with me without simultaneously texting. It's eerie. Thank goodness he's only grown an inch or two, and his voice is still high pitched. Not like he’s a man or anything. So all in all, it works out well.
I figure Costa Rica in 2014. I mean how much longer can one zip-line?