As I type this, my mother is settling back into her home in Philadelphia and likely vowing never to climb another flight of stairs. We have just spent eight, frankly magical, days carting her around Paris, feeding her our favorite dishes at our favorite tables, pointing conspicuously at landmarks as wide-eyed as first timers, muscling our way through tourists to score the best views, dutifully waiting in lines for treats she wouldn’t find at home and sharing fragments of our lives in one of the world’s most spectacular capitals.
But this visit was significant beyond the mere fact that it coincided with the holidays. It was mom’s very first visit to Paris and her first trip to Europe since 1972. Basically, this was an epic, well overdue journey that needed to be perfect.
Inconceivable though it may seem, I was worried that Paris wouldn’t charm her the way it charmed me. That she wouldn’t fully understand why I’ve chosen this to be my home – why this city is somehow superior to any other place (closer to my hometown) that could have provided the backdrop to my life’s story. My concerns were unfounded, of course, because the trip was more eye-opening for her than I could have ever anticipated.
Among everything I’ve done and seen in 2013 – wrote a lot, traveled a bit – nothing edges close to matching the joy I felt seeing and helping her discover a city so grand it nearly overwhelmed her at first. She fared better with jetlag than any other guest I’ve welcomed, tackling a full day of sightseeing a mere hours after landing, and traversed the city by foot with nary a complaint. Every meal was a win (hallelujah!) and every corner more awe-inspiring than the one before it.
As the last seven years have hummed by in Paris, where my life is wildly different from the one I led previously, my family looks on as spectators. This site has been tremendously helpful in illustrating, to a degree, how I live and spend my time (mostly eating, as it appears to them) but it remains abstract – a compilation of tales as tenuous as the memories of our lives together under one roof has become. But mom’s visit bridged the gap and touched off a new chapter, one in which the ever-important characters from my ‘other’ life are able to play ample roles in my current story.
My last wish for this cold and wet end to 2013 is that mom’s brief, if symbolic, first experience in Paris not only brings us closer but sparks wanderlust and a curiosity that will see her returning to Europe sooner rather than later.
-View of the city from atop the Arc de Triomphe (if unable to climb all the stairs, request access via elevator)
-The new exhibit at the Musée d’Orsay
-View of the city at sundown from the steps of Sacré Coeur
-Breakfast at HolyBelly (for more on them, check out my story for Bon Appétit!)
-Dinner at Come A Casa
-Dinner at Semilla
-Dinner at the new Terroir Parisien at the Palais Brongniart at Bourse
-Snack at Pierre Hermé (specifically, introducing mom to the Croissant Ispahan. See photo HERE).