Saturday, November 14, 2015

Saturday Night in New York and Weeping for Paris

Eiffel Tower -
Closed and Dark
It's Saturday night, and I'm safe at home in mid-Manhattan.

And my heart is breaking.

I am thinking of Paris, a city I love so much, and remembering so many things about that beloved place (not visited now for two years — just about this time two years ago — and we were able to enjoy all the pre-holiday festivities and shopping, just as Parisians were doing until last night).

I'm not dealing very well with the news. I'm streaming France24. It's coming in very well over the internet, and I'm trying to keep up. But at this point there is no more news, as such. Just horror. And weeping. And Parisians pleading, begging for news of loved ones who are still missing, presumably in hospital or laid out in morgues until the workers can get to them, get them identified, and tell their relatives where they are. Or how they are.

I'm listening to Radio Classique Paris, streaming in via the other big iMac. Splendid sound, and a little while ago they played the "Libera me" from Verdi's Manzoni Requiem with the Vienna Philharmonic. I decided it would be appropriate for me to play my CD of Dudamel conducting the Requiem at the Hollywood Bowl, so that's what I did for a while this evening.

Palais Garnier - No performance here
or at the Opéra Bastille tonight.
Why appropriate? Because as we finished our nearly day-long walking tour of the Palais Garnier two years ago, we had finished walking about, after several hours (did you know that for €5 you can buy a ticket to go into the Palais Garnier and just walk around to your heart's content, stay as long as you like up to late afternoon? Just swallowing up all that beauty?).

As we approached the exit, to leave the building — where we were going to hear Mozart's La clemenza di Tito the following evening — I could hear the sounds of the Requiem being played in the gift shop. So of course we went in and of course I bought it. What a splendid souvenir for our day at the Palais Garnier! And never knowing it would be listened to with so much heartbreak this evening. And the Palais Garnier, like everything else, closed and shuttered until ... when? After three days of mourning? Until the next attack?

What is going on?

Grande Roue - Now Dark
I keep thinking of people I know and knew in Paris. Not necessarily friends, although there are some of those, friends who have come up from other parts of the country to visit with us when we're in Paris, a special friend from Berlin who had lived in Paris years ago and come from Berlin to have a week with us, another friend — a New Yorker who couldn't stand the pressure of his desires any more and simply, once he had enough financial security, went off to Paris to spend the rest of his life there. And another friend, a silly friend in Washington who has a needlepoint cushion that simply says "I'd rather be in Paris" (and he goes to Paris every opportunity he has). Another couple, friends I got to know and care about when they were in England when I lived there, oh! so many years ago. And in the early 90s when I was in Paris and had a personal family crisis they took me into their flat in La Défense and took care of me until I was OK.

Tonight the city is all shuddered, closed down, people at home in their beds, afraid to go out, the city desolate. I keep thinking of Parisians I hardly knew and wonder how they are doing. The lovely, very special lady at the Mayfair — my favorite hotel — who takes such good care, such serious, sincere care of us when we're in her hotel. The sweet young man at the Galeries Lafayette (closed today and for a while to come, I gather) who took so much time ('way too much time) to make sure that the clothes I tried on would work on an American man's frame — very different from a Frenchman's!

Maxim's - No Caption Required
And most of all I suppose I'm thinking wistfully of the wonderful woman who took time out of her busy career (she's an actress and has a one-person performance piece in which she plays Colette). We were scheduled to visit Pierre Cardin's l'art nouveau museum at Maxim's and the regular curator was not so she stepped in for him. So generous and so willing to allow us to stay as long as we like, take all the photographs we wanted, and she even complimented me on "how well" I speak French (I said she was very generous).

And I couldn't resist: I wrote about her in January of last year, in a post mostly about l'art nouveau but I had to include her. Take a look if you like: Ah, Paris: Pierre Cardin's Art Nouveau Museum at Maxim's.

What is she doing tonight? Is Maxim's closed, like everything else? I hope she — and the curator of this very sweet, very fabulous museum — are well.

So many memories. So sad. And I know I'm not alone. The French were so worried about us when we had 9-11 and now we worry about them. And so many of us — like me — love France and the French so much, and we love Paris, and we're all worried.

What's going to happen next? I've been advised not to "obsess" about the situation in France, and I'm trying not to.

But I'm so sad.


Kristin McDonough said...

Thank you for this evocative post, Guy, which I will share with our many friends who love Paris as you two -- and Don and I -- do. One couple in our circle who live most of the year here on the UWS @ Riverside Drive spend summers at their place in the Marais where they have met marvelous neighbors whom they love, so I am sending them your post asap since it captures
the affection, and admiration, respect and regret that so many of us feel at this moment for our Parisian friends in the city of light.

Martina said...

We are living in very troubled times in Europe right now, but please let us not give up hope and helping all the poor people who are fleeing the terror - everybody wants to live in a peaceful and free world!
Big hugs, Martina & Antonio

Look at this

Guy said...

Thank you, Kristin and Martina. And special thanks for the link. Oh, such thoughts we're having today. Guy