That Was Stressful

by

Oof.

I lost the family.

Well, not exactly, the family got lost.

Mom let me go this afternoon saying, “we can get back from here.”

“Are you sure?”  I asked.

I was not certain and I did not like leaving them to get back up and over the hill.

“Oh, it’s fine, I know how, I’ll figure it out,” she said.

Mom is tiny, tres petite, an 11 month old strapped to her front and a four-year old who was having a temper tantrum regarding another ride on the carousel.

I was not comfortable leaving her there, especially when I had her take out her Iphone and put in the map navigator, the phone was almost out of juice and the thought of leaving her to the jackals left me quite uneasy.

We had been approached more than once by the hordes of illegals trying to press wrap bracelets on you, flowers, trinket, geegaws; they trap you with the bracelet, tying it rapidly on your wrist, they will grab your hand, and while you are busy trying to negotiate your way out of it, one of them picks your pocket.

“Let’s see, one pm, to now, um, that’s,” she calculated out loud pulling her wallet open in front of the baby while the little girl whirled in and out between us, “here,” she said handing me 100 Euros, two 50 Euro notes, “that’s for today, I want to tip you, and then we leave 30 Euro credit for tomorrow?”

“Ok,” I said, I quickly folded the notes over and jammed them in my wallet, relocating my bag to the front of my body and pushing my wallet into it as far as I could.  I held it in front of me until I was out of the melee of the park.

“Are you sure I can’t get you back up and over the hill?”  I asked one more time, I knew she was going to get lost.

“No, no, we are fine, I am just going to get us back and go buy lunch at the store and a bottle of wine and we’ll be fine.” She gave me a hug, “I will touch base later about dinner, maybe we will use you tonight, and definitely for tomorrow.”

“Alright,” I said.  I was not going to micro-manage her experience, despite wanting to tell her what to do, she had made the decision.

It is her experience.

If she wants to have the getting lost in Paris experience with two tired children, that is her prerogative.

She got it.

I did not realize that she had called me until I got home, unloading the groceries from my bag.

Shit.

I did not even need to check the message to know what was going on.

Sure enough, they had gotten lost.

She was so close too.

I got her on the phone, but the call continuously dropped as her phone ran out of power.

I had a moment of panic.

Then I thought, she is really close to where she lives, she has a wallet jammed with money, I saw it when she paid me, almost made me want to snatch her hands and say, what are you doing carrying that much cash around?!

She can flag a cab.

She can walk into a cafe or a restaurant.

She is in the Montmartre and there are so many tourists spots there and so many people who speak English, all she has to do is ask.

It took her another hour to get back to me that she had made it home.

I had managed to get her two blocks away from her apartment.

Before her phone died and I was unable to contact her again.

An hour to go two blocks.

Oh, how I know that feeling.

I remembered quite distinctly how lost I had gotten trying to navigate my way from Abaraxas in the Marais to the Lizard Lounge, hours, I had spent hours trying to find one then the other, just blocks away from each other.

It can be extraordinarily challenging.

But, regardless it is an experience, we all get to get lost, and I realize as I sit here at the keyboard, I am just as lost.

I don’t know where I am going.

I don’t know how to get there either.

The best I can do is enjoy the scenery on the way.

I sat in the park, on a bench with his small baby body strapped to me sleeping, the sun brushing the back of my shoulders with warmth while his sister chased up and down the slide and made friends with the kids running around the park at Square D’Anvers.

Mom was off shopping.

She had expressed a desire to do some vintage shopping and I knew of a couple of awesome shops in my neighborhood.  She took my leave for two hours and shopped and I got to stay at the park with the shouts of children carooming off the buildings.  I gave her directions, pointing out the two streets from the park that she would need to navigate to get to the stores.

She came back laden with bags, a successful trip.

I had also a successful trip, just sitting down on the bench in a park, in Paris, for two hours with a baby snuggled to me was a trip.  She suggested we go to the cafe by the park.

We went to Les Oiseaux to grab some lunch.

Unfortunately, Les Oiseaux was like my experience at Cafe Flore, slow, rude, awful service, by a condescending waiter who yelled at us, telling us we were taking up too much space at the tables, which were empty and there was no one waiting to sit down.

The mom looked shocked.

I explained to the waiter what we needed, he came back, after we had scooted down to a smaller table, gruffly handing me two menus, then he dismissed us and trotted off.

“Should we go?” The mom asked.

“I think so, I’m sorry, these cafes so close to the heavy tourist areas can have really awful service,” I said, gathering up her bags and pushing away from the table after another five minutes of being ignored.

I took her a couple blocks out-of-the-way to avoid the worst foot traffic at the base of Sacre Couer.  I had planned on getting her back to the apartment and was thinking that there may be a better way to do it then the way I was going, despite it being the most direct route. But my plans, well, they were ignored.

They often are, I think, I realize, I am beginning to understand, my best laid plans are often, very often, all the time, mis-laid.  I cannot manage another’s life, I cannot manage my own life.

Again, I think, lost, aren’t we all?

Just trying to do our best.

I should just speak for myself, always so busy getting lost, trying to navigate through the world, to be my best, to be kind, gentle, and caring, to be of service and help where I can.

I did not know what to do with myself when I got back, too late to make plans for the rest of the day, too early to do my normal just getting home for the night routine.

I decided to take advantage of the room-mate being at work.

Then.

I took a screamingly hot shower.

While showering I got a message from the mom, safe, sound, back to the apartment, a new book of maps bought, and her phone charging.

Safe and sound.

A good reminder to myself that I too am taken care of, despite not knowing what will happen next, I too am safe and sound.

Here, in Paris.

 

 

 

 

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