It’s a Thursday, a name day which rightfully pays homage to the Norse God Thor. Thor, the God of Thunder, brought to the big screen by Marvel Comics in the person of Chris Hemsworth, has the dubious honor of having his name attached to the most unlikely of days of the week, the not-Friday of the Union-established work week; the day disdained by Arthur Dent (of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame) as a day which “he could never get the hang of;” a day in which your humble narrator find himself alone in a cabin in a village by the woods in Central Europe, waiting patiently for tomorrow.
I do believe that was an egregious run-on sentence, but the gist is: it’s not tomorrow, and I want it to be tomorrow, because in the afternoon of the aforementioned morrow, my European counterpart and I depart for Paris for the weekend.
I have indeed arrived at the raison of my d’etre. After an eye-opening and invigorating acclimation to Central Europe, our travels finally begin.
Perhaps I should rephrase that assertion. I left Louisiana on Sunday, November 5th, and I have been “traveling” ever since, and each phase of the trip - each stop and respite - has been impeccable and warm, replete with comradely good fellowship and introductions to real faces to digital myths. Every minute of the past couple of weeks has been stunning and flawless, especially my welcome to, and time spent within, the Czech Republic. Like most Americans, I knew little of the CR before my arrival, and I am glad to state that my ignorance of the land and its people is gradually being whittled into familiarity.
All that being said, the French are very French, and I love their capital city. This will be my third sojourn to Paris, and as with any world-renowned Metropolis, it offers new delights and conundrums upon every viewing. Or, new dangers (why not? I lead a charmed life, but eventually I will attract the notice of the gods, and a reckoning will be demanded). I can’t wait to not know what I don’t know, but in French.
I am not a religious or spiritual person (I was raised hardcore Catholic, excepting only that I was never molested by priest or deacon), having discarded the yoke of faith during the summer of my fourteenth year. I am not blind to the impact of organized religion, however, nor disdainful of art or architecture due merely to the influence of the Pope’s checkbook. Notre Dame Cathedral is one of my very favorite places to visit, in the city by the Seine; it was the location of my first revelatory embrace of Paris, back when I visited with the long-dead Jim (a former close compatriot and autonomic victim of suicide). Jim was a walker, very European in his sensibilities, for an American - he didn’t own a car, and walked everywhere in his Connecticut hometown, and worked for a homeless shelter, and ate kale before it was cool - and that first trip to Paris began with the scaling of the steps to the top of Montmartre, leaving me sweaty and deranged at 8 o’clock in the morning and wondering when we’d signed up for a French triathlon; since he’d been to the city many times, he insisted on showing me places that had taken on meaning for him, instead of allowing me to absorb and embrace the city on my own.
Late in the afternoon of that day, of my first trip, we went inside Notre Dame, a dark and indifferent chasm of ancient holiness, I felt some connection to the chaos, and was made well.
I will endeavor not to repeat such mistakes, on this trip. I am almost apathetic about planning, to some extent, because every marvel I’ve ever encountered on every trip was luck, serendipity or happenstance. We have purchased bus tickets and a hotel, and otherwise: we shall discover where the road leads. If I knew already, there’d be little point in going.