Thursday, September 13, 2012

Aging in Place

We were invited to dinner at the home of some friends who have rented the same apartment in a nice part of town for the last 30 years.  While marveling that we're not the only people who don't like to move, our friends told us about their neighbor across the landing, a woman of 92 years who still lives in the same 50 square meter apartment in which she was born in 1920.

Although disabled by polio she climbed up and down the three flights of stairs in this elevator-less building using her canes until three years ago, since when she has not left her apartment.  As she has no family, our friend is kind enough to bring up her mail, do her banking and run the occasional errand.  Her doctor comes to her, her hairdresser comes to her, even her manicurist comes to her.  But still, never to get outside...Why not move to someplace easier to live in?

At least one reason she hasn't given up the apartment became clear when we learned that she is the beneficiary of a rent control law put into effect in 1948 that limits raises for the elderly.  There's no way she could live anywhere else in Paris, or maybe in France, for the 90 euros per month she pays.

The landlord must hate her.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Oh Baby, Baby

We've been toodling around Paris the last few days with an adorable three year old, an old Paris hand who first visited when he was only six months old.  We've had an exhaustive tour of the playgrounds and carousels of the city, with time out for meals and bus rides.

The Wednesday street market on Avenue Président Wilson was a hit as he rode in his backpack, graciously accepting offers of tiny bananas and slices of saucisson from adoring vendor ladies.

A stop under the Eiffel Tower allowed for some time on a slide that he shared very politely with a little blond girl who liked him so much she rushed over to give him a hug when he fell down.  Language did not seem to be a barrier.  Shrieking is the Esperanto of toddlers.

The playground at the Place des Vosges had a range of structures, swings and teeter-totters that could be shared or simply goggled at, but the various fountains we came across might have been his favorites.  Water!  It's wet!

One of these was set in a lawn in front of the Petit Palais.  After an exhaustive search for tiny daisies, some of which were politely offered to people lunching on the benches, we entered the Mini-Palais across the street, where the adoration of several more people kept us occupied through a two hour lunch on the gorgeous terrace.  Turns out we like magret de canard and don't like boeuf tartare.

Many hugs and kisses later, he took off this morning in a taxi with his entourage, waving "bye Paris".  Me, I went back to bed for a well-needed rest.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Three Years Old

A pre-dawn flight that had us waking at an hour that I had previously refused to believe exists and several delayed flights later we were in Paris, almost exactly three years to the day after the start of our Parisian adventure.  This time we arrived knowing that it would be the last trip of this particular adventure.

We've been realizing that we've accomplished our original goal, i.e. learning what it would be like to actually live in Paris rather than just visit.  We still love it, but we've passed the stage when every glimpse of the Eiffel Tower or each walk past the Louvre makes us stop and marvel.  We know how lucky we are and Paris is just part of it.

Adding up the months, we realize that two of the last three years have been spent entirely in Paris, in increments from nine months to three.  We realize too that we miss our home in Berkeley and that a couple of months in summer and three or four months in winter don't let us get back into that California life in the comfortable way we'd like.

And so at the end of November we'll be giving up the apartment and spending six or nine or twelve months in a row in Berkeley, where we'll finally be able to unpack all the things we put away when we first began renting out the house, and spending more time with the family and old friends.

Speaking of family and friends, we'll be visited this fall by our nieces and grandnephew, by friends F & M, who will join us on our planned trip to Turkey in October and then stay down the street here in Paris for a week, and by B, one of my dearest friends, who impulsively signed up for a visit when she realized we wouldn't be back here for a bit and who will stay with our mutual friends E and D, who coincidently have just sold their Paris apartment and plan to travel more.  Change is in the air.

We will doubtless be back to Paris, and maybe even live here again, but the plan for 2013 holds several trips to the East Coast of the US and a long trip to Asia. 

 Meanwhile, we plan to take advantage of our last hurrah.