Friday, September 18, 2009

Bonne Anniversaire

It was my birthday yesterday and the universe knew it. A gorgeous sunny day for the first time in days, even the store windows prepared parties for me.

I woke up to fresh croissants and lovely flowers on the table and lots of emails and phone calls. It's always been my belief that a birthday celebrated away from home somehow doesn't count; you don't actually age, you just enjoy the day. Since I've spent nearly every birthday in Paris for many years, I look terribly old for the age I claim I am.

This theory almost always makes for a happy birthday, although a dozen years ago poor Gene had to contend with a depressed, weepy wife and hasn't yet forgotten the experience. My mother had recently died, I was hitting a significant birthday, my hormones were all screwed up, and I burst into tears when there were no flowers in the teeny tiny hotel room we were staying in. Gene is a fabulous guy, and, reasonably thinking being in Paris and planning dinner with our dearest friends at le Pre Catalan in the Bois de Boulogne was bouquet enough, even for me, had neglected to think of flowers.

Faced with a menopausal meltdown, he rushed out, brought back flowers, and has never missed a floral birthday since. Bless him. The things he puts up with would test Job.

Speaking of putting up, someone has put up these posters on walls around town. I'm not at all familiar with French political parties, but this one seems like a throwback to Lenin. The image of the muscled worker knocking out the "capitalist vermin" reminds you of Soviet realism, doesn't it? It is, though, at least a reflection of what is called here la crise, the global economic crisis, and demands that trades and jobs be saved, and the "capitalist traitors" get out of France. No explanation of who is to finance the trades and jobs in this case, but it's a small poster.

Me, I was taking the day off from heavy thoughts. It was my birthday and I was enjoying it.

We met a new friend for coffee at Les Editeurs, a very cool if bobo (bourgeois bohemian) café at Odéon in Saint Germain des Prés and had a very good time learning about each other, then bought a bread (a quintessential French experience) at Eric Kayser, a branch of one of the best boulangeries in Paris and strolled around, looking at shop windows and smiling happily in the sun. And I smiled even more happily after my birthday present came out of one of those shop windows!

Drinks with friends staying at the magnificent art deco Hotel Lutetia and an incredibly rich but delicious dinner at l'Ami Jean, one of my favorites. Who could ask for anything more?

Oh, and it's Rosh Hashanah. Happy New Year, Shana Tova. May you all have a year of health, happiness, and wonder.

No comments: