A love letter from Paris. I know he remembers her…I wouldn’t leave my love home alone with her because she was all raspberries and cherries and only twenty-three. She was from the Louvre, a student there, ‘the school of love’; she says. I’m nodding, he’s panting. It’s agreed; she can stay. We’ve employed her as the au pair. She is to teach the children French. We are all learning French. The four children, my love and me. The year is 2006.
The park in between. We would meet there with the four children every afternoon and swap them. The gap in our classes a perfect window for a picnic in the park. My time 9-1 and then my loves 2-6. We had homework…my love always better at rote than me. I would copy his homework every night whilst he started that second bottle of wine. “Did you know I did that?” I learnt by osmosis, he by hard work. I spoke first but he knew better. My grammar so poor, his confidence so low. It was a race, everything was a race. I think he won, I stopped running. “Did you notice?” I had to race with four children on my back. They were heavy and each year they became heavier. Filling me with love, until I could wish for no more. Now I become light, they are running. I watch them with envy and admiration. It is their time now.
They are running so fast, much faster than we did. I want to run again. “Will you race me, my love?” But we need to change the rules, because the world has changed; and I have changed. I have the fondest memories for all of our shared experiences with the children that year in Paris. The first time I dined in a fancy restaurant, with my love and the four children. I remember what the children ate. I remember helping them with the shells. I remember the smells, the butter and garlic, the white wine emulsion, the moules. But I have no idea what I ate. Why can’t I remember? I know I was happy. It all seems to be slipping away. And now I look to the photos, they keep the memories alive.
Each year when we return to Paris we create new memories, new moments that will become the old ones in the future. And Paris, she is always the same but different, that is what I love about her. She is both new and old at the same time, a little bit like us.
I remember the bike riding in high heels, of course, always in high heels. I remember the kayaking. I remember our Vespa. I remember the metro. I remember the pain au chocolat. The day I ate three of them in an attempt to be cured. It didn’t work, I could have eaten more. Always with the four children. Now they are living their own lives. I don’t want to burden them with the expectation to be around; but I do miss them. I miss you too. Can you send me a love letter from Paris?
I remember we had only one date night that year and I ruined it. “Remember?” It was the first cold snap and I wanted to drop a blanket by to a local man but in the rush to please everyone I didn’t get to him. I had fed the children, bathed them and had them in bed when the au pair arrived but I hadn’t dropped off the blanket. I was so distracted. The colder the night became the more I worried about this man. We had to abandon the date to go and deliver him a blanket. My love so kind. We missed our dinner booking and we couldn’t get in anywhere and it ended up being a horrible night but he was so indulgent of me being happy. I remember his patience and my apology. Checks and balances…
Our forties seem to be lasting forever. Such hard work, ensuring the children are ok. Reflecting on my goals, they are so specific, all about the children. “I’m sorry if you missed out”. I want the children to contribute to society and to be happy. Two things, be happy, contribute to society, I want them so badly. I have repeated that on so many occasions, a well worn phrase.
We are in interesting times, the new and the old. “Have I enticed you, my love? Will you race me?” I promise to speak French forever, since you cannot. Maybe I will learn Italian too, we both know it lives inside me. “Can you handle the heat?” I want to feel jealous again, like I did in Paris. I would never have left you alone with her…
A love letter from Paris.
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