Two days ago, on one of my many ventures with my aunt here in Paris, we visited a friend of hers in the 15th arrondiseement. It was my first visit to the home of someone I never met; I had not had this experience since leaving Argentina. Up we went to her house located in a complex, reminiscent of historic ommunity-living during the Cold War, very unconventional but interesting. Welcoming us was a woman who looked just like Shirley MacLaine and every single word that came out of her mouth made me think it just might be her. "Shirley" greeted us into her house, one little museum filled with paintings of children from Germany in the 40's that she must have inherited from her parents, to a collection of her husband's airline food spoons (yes..), all this, in the simplest living conditions I have seen in a long time. She prepared us "American coffee", totally lifeless but served with gingerbread snaps that I love. We took a seat on her long terrace, sitting around a table covered in a tablecloth of wild flowers. I felt like I was sitting with my grandmother.
We started talking and her choice of words was rich and incredible. Every thing she said was chosen with precision. We get to Latin American men and it turns out, she too, had her share of lovers in the 1960's when she was young, bold and beautiful. And she confirmed "they will never be loyal and may have you as their beloved mistress for years, sometimes without even hiding it... and it's either you accept it or you decide you don't want to share your man." She's 75. I couldn't believe I was talking about lovers and sex with her!
From there, she told us the story of she met her husband of 47 (!) years back in Berkeley, California when she was 26, and was regarded as 'too old to marry at her age'. She was invited to a dinner party to meet one man and ended up with someone else, a young Frenchman who was 1.5 hours late to the dinner. By the end of the evening, they were caught up in conversation and he insisted on taking her home, refusing to let the intended bachelor get his rights of passage. Destiny! 6 months later they were married. Her marriage was not something that pleased her parents, especially her mom, because he wasn't of the same faith. "When I married him, my mother was devastated because he was not Jewish and she asked me whether I think I would be happy with him. And I told her, I don't know but I do know one thing for sure - I will never be bored with him." Then she looked at me and said, "And I have never had 5 minutes where I was bored." I think it's very rare to meet such people and hear of such relationships (if she finds a nice seashell, he'll go out and buy her a book of seashells from around the world). They went to Ivy League schools in their time and you can talk about anything with them. He could have retired years ago but at almost 80 years of age, he still dedicates his life to cancer research for children and in his home, out on the terrace are 2 old office cabinets full of essays that you just look at, in awe.
Her parents fled to the U.S. in 1939 with legal papers leaving her with one of their employees in their family-run company when she was just 1.5 years old. The intention was to go to the U.S. and come back for her. But who really knew if that would ever happen? They obtained legal papers for her and the couple who took care of her, arranged her departure to the US with two adults she never met before. On bringing her to this couple, her father's employee actually risked his life to get her to them and was seriously injured after being chased and fell off a train. She only discovered this 10 years ago when her father passed away, and a woman called her one night to ask her to give a speech of thanks for her grandfather's memorial; the man who saved her and she had no idea what she was talking about! For 2 hours, the woman told Shirley the history of how she ever got to America. And before she knew all this, every time her husband went on a trip, she did not know why, but a fear arose in her that he would never return and for years, she did not know how to say goodbye to someone, it would kill her. Today, it's all clear. And when you make a plan to meet her, you must come at the time you say you will.
Two days ago, a plumber came to the house to do some work. We were cooking (as usual) and he said "oy vay, the smell is great". My aunt turned around and asked him if he was Jewish and he told us a story he has only shared with very few people during his entire life. His dad is Catholic and his mother, Jewish but never had any affiliation to it; rather, everything he knows of that side is from his grandmother - her cooking, the culture, the way of talk, the holidays. No one in school ever knew and even today, people at work have no idea. He doesn't tell anyone - he says it causes problems and no one would believe him anyway because he doesn't "look it" and makes things easier for him. So he practices in silence and knows of his background only in the privacy of his own home. He says his mom looked like Golda Meir and his brother took on her character while he, his fathers, with blue eyes and ash brown hair. You never know who you're going to meet and what stories you will hear. It's unbelievable!
And so, Yom Kippur has just ended tonight. The fast seems to get easier for me with time and I am able to control my desires and urges. I spent the day walking around the neighborhood, admiring architecture, looking out for empty apartments and enjoying a sunny Saturday in Paris. I dont think there is one day without a tourist in the city. In the afternoon, I went to the synagogue on Rue de la Victoire, an incredible structure that surprisingly enough, resembles a church for obvious reasons; them being assimilation and desire to be modest back when it was built. It is beautiful and there must have been 1,000 people. It was beautiful!
And just before, yesterday, a Skype window opened on my laptop. And there it was, *him*. I was calm and answered; he began wishing me a happy new year, as I had disregarded the email (obviously!). And then asked "where are you?", "which seems to be the popular question this week" I said. I felt very interrogated and asked whether he was working for secret service, interested, or what. After all, it's been a couple of months - what was bringing this on? I answered what I wanted to, left some things open when he said he is wondering about my life. How can I trust that he is purely interested?! After all, I was in Argentina and he turned his back on me and it hurt me and I can't really forget that. I know it probably wasn't easy for him either, to think that someone might be coming for you is a big responsibility. But still, there is no need to be a jerk. I cut the conversation unconventionally short and received the famous 'beso' (kiss) that has always made me purr inside and make me melt on the spot. Today, I take the words and regard them with limited emotion to not get hurt. So, who knows!? If you want something, you should say what it is that you want!!We're beating around the bush with one another instead of head-on and only god knows why.
Last week, evening of Rosh Hashana, I got an email from *him*, some template he must have sent to 20 other Jewish people in the world, wishing us all a happy new year. I didn't even bother answering. Last year, I received a personal mail and this year, I am one of many? Wow, thanks. Only confirms my line to my friend back in NYC when we sat at the 72nd St Train Station..."they all come back - even if its for 2 minutes, 2 hours, 2 weeks or whatever. they do." And they do!!
I even got an email from a very old flame - "first-time" flames! What's going on with the universe lately?? We're in a series of back and forth on life. It's so funny to have these recalls of people who once made your heart pound and pulse in your ears to the point where you can't even hear anything around you. Where are those days of excitement!?
So tomorrow is a new day; and the one we've had today has ended and will be almost forgotten by then.
Having one of my closest friends visit me here in Paris last week was one of the best things that happened to me in months. It refreshed me more than I expected and I was able to speak to someone who KNOWS me. Six days of laughter, crazy stories and new, shared experiences in the City of Light were fantastic!! We ate way too much, danced, laughed, wandered the streets of Paris and cursed each other out with love. What better way to reunite and revisit your not-so-distant past? It was bittersweet!
We met up with Leti, a friend from Buenos Aires. In the heart of the Marais, at Chez Jeanette, we shared our stories, laughed and crazily enough, I soon saw how these two really resembled one another in character, habits, personal style and life experiences. It was strange but consoling that I made the right decision when choosing my friends and I was surprised that I didn't realize it before but again, it's all timing! And the two instantly connected, making us a trio I was proud of. It connected my world back home with the one I have been building over the last several months and it's amazing to see it come together right before my eyes. When she flew back, it was hard not to cry because really, we look out for one another and it's not something obvious in friendships today. I walked away really fast so I wouldn't fall into the trap of tears again! Learning to move on fast, continue with life, never stop and keep going.
And right after she left, news came in, just as she promised that it would. One of the jobs I'd been a candidate for dropped; they did offer me another position I will think about and reply to once I feel more comfortable. So one out of two. I was requested to do a technical test for the other position based in BsAs. I welcomed the challenge without realizing that I completely forgot how to go about the exercise. I started accepting that I was down to zero but before I knew it, I finished the exercise correctly. My aunt came back from the market saying that her Turkish butcher handed her a "blue eye" against the evil eye, "just in case" - we found that ironic and laughed that it might have helped! Personally, I think that there are some things you just CAN NOT control and you have to accept it. And why would I want to control everything...makes life so much less interesting.
It has been an exceptional year and I have met exceptional people and I wish for more this year and always. It's going to be another wild ride, I can sense it. I want to make a home somewhere (finally!!) and I'm hoping that I will be led into the right direction. No matter where I go, I hope that life's encounters will all be exceptional.