Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Paris Lost and Found

Doors in Marseille Notre Dame

Sixteen years ago I went to Paris. I lost a camera (technically my wedding gift to my new husband... technically with all our honeymoon photos on it). I was an artist then, going expectantly to an artist's city. But I came home having lost heart for being a professional artist. Upon returning, I immediately began to pursue a Masters in Teaching. My time in the great city had given some things, taken away others. All of it unexpected.

Fast forward. Today, I returned from Paris. And again, it gave some things and took others away.

There were things I hoped for, sought, even acquired. A day at the Picasso museum. A visit to Roman ruins. Strawberry jam from a wonderful fromagerie.

Picasso, closed. Ruins in renovation (explain that!). Jam confiscated at security; okay, I'm a seasoned traveler, but I packed the carry-on bag from H-E- double L. In other words, I had four glass jars of sealed jam. One open jar, for breakfast on croissants of course. A bottle of water. Scissors in the kids' sewing project. Like I said, the bag from H-E-..... Oh, and I lost my airplane chocolate chip cookies, had to give them away, 'cause while I was in Marseilles I found I am allergic to almonds and the wrapper said could contain traces of nuts.

St Paul's in Paris

In place of Picasso, we found St. Paul's, and had a moving moment of lighting a candle for my gravely ill baby niece, Summer Rain. It was the kind of moment that I and my two girls came into all at once, agreed on without words, then found it was so when my Littlest expressed, For Summer. It was almost physical, the way we moved together in our minds before our hands lit that candle of please, God, please.

The ruins gave over to a famous bookstore, Shakespeare & Co., where my Littlest played the piano (and lost her rock when she set it down). The lost jam found us a story. And the cookies I had to give away... they found me a laugh! When reading the wrapper, which said, suitable for vegetarians... and... saving orangutans, this product is free from palm oil... my travel-weary brain read that the cookies were suitable for orangutans.

In a rather ironic twist, I wrote this on the plane and ended by saying I do not yet completely know what I have lost and what I have found... So of course, when I landed, my luggage was... who knows? Not with me on the ground.

Shakespeare bookstore

Doors of Notre Dame in Marseilles photo; Shakespeare bookstore photo in Paris; St. Paul's in Paris photo, by L.L. Barkat.


L.L.'s Made to Last
L.L.'s Golden (includes awesome picture of ceiling in Notre Dame Marseilles)

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Blogger Andrea said...

welcome back!
care to peruse the Ossining streets with me this Thursday? I know it's not Paris, but....

3:24 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

What a beautiful picture of a city. I love how you're still shaking the trip out, waiting to see what stays and what goes and what you want to do about it all.

Also, I love the picture of the doors!

4:09 PM  
Blogger Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Welcome back. Paris does have a way of having a delayed reaction on people. When we came back, I finally took the empty bedroom that had been reserved as the nursery for the baby who never came and turned it into a home office. Complete with three Monet prints, one Van Gogh, and a Redon.

I'll say a prayer for your niece. I hope she is doing better.

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

looks like a beautiful trip despite the expectations and their outcomes. glad you're home.

6:17 PM  
Blogger Lynet said...

Oh, the mess of travel! Best of luck finding your luggage. At least it happened to you in the country you know.

9:33 PM  
Blogger Every Square Inch said...

Nice photos - Paris is a beautiful city. I was just on a trip with a friend and he lost his luggage as well. It's one of the trials of traveling these days.

10:02 PM  
Blogger 23 degrees said...

While reading this (and seeing the photos) it felt like I was there with your family. Thanks for letting me experience a taste of Paris through your eyes. Oh, and how interesting that you took such a turn coming back from your honeymoon years ago. Will be waiting to hear this story...

12:06 AM  
Blogger christianne said...

I loved the story of you and your girls lighting the candle and praying together. Sorry to hear about your luggage! :(

12:49 AM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L., Hope you recover your luggage. Paris looks and sounds interesting. Another place high on my list would be Italy. Of course I like the idea of visiting the UK and really all of Europe.

But I'll be interested in seeing perhaps how this trip impacted you in coming days. Paris does seem to be a hub for creativity and surely it stirred something in you- something else new?

2:40 AM  
Blogger RumorsOfGlory said...

Oh, good grief - sans luggage! You're right though, you came home with a so many better things!
Blessings - you are a gifted writer.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Michelle Gregory said...

love the pictures, esp. the doors (what is it about doors that i find fascinating?). it seems that you have taken up your love of photography again?

hope your luggage finds you soon.

i have a table story - is it too late to tell it?

-michelle g.

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you should try Rome or Toledo or something next time.
Have you talked about losing your desire to be an artist before after your last Paris trip? I'm curious about that.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

C'est la vie!

Hold the almonds and save the orangutans!

At first, I thought you were going to say you found your camera again.

1:22 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Andrea... thanks. It's good to be home. I hadn't remembered how incredibly green it is here, even as urban as this place feels. Paris, though beautiful, is a very grey place.

Sarah... I think I'll be shaking and sorting for a long time. : ) Aren't those doors the best? Notre Dame in Marseilles.

Ruth... Having been to many different cities, yes, I must say Paris has a unique effect. At least on me. I loved your story of what changed when you came back. As for Summer, thanks for your prayers. At this point, she's actually finally received a successful heart surgery (well, three in one). But there are other issues that still need sorting out.

Spaghetti... no complaints here. It was... wonderful.

Lynet... Oh, it would have been harder the other way round, yes! As of today, we have one piece back. It was the piece I was most hoping for, as it had a tiny little golden, zircon-studded Eiffel Tower that my Littlest had picked out and adored. As I mentioned in my post, she had lost her special rock at the bookstore. In fact, she is always losing things, so it warms my heart that her souvenir is came to us.

Every Square... thanks on the photos. I have so many I want to share. Now I've just got to find a logical way to do so! : )

23 Degrees... it was a terrific family time with my kids (spouse was working except evenings). As for my decision to "turn" last time, I can't explain it. Sometimes going away and seeing things through new eyes just wakes us up. We understand that we want something to be different. I think that's what happened.

Christianne... the incident you mention... it was one of the most meaningful moments in Paris. It was like a little miracle.

Ted... Italy. Oh, that would be nice too! I love the history of Rome and all that. I don't really know how this trip will continue to affect me. I just know it has traveled deep into my imagination.

Rumors... thanks for the kind words about my writing. I want the luggage back, but as you say, I've received untold blessing.

Michelle... tell the story. We'll be waiting. As for doors, I love them too. They speak of promise or denial.

Heather... I don't know if I've talked about the art thing before. Clearly I'm still artistic, but I didn't want to be a professional artist after that. Strange, of course, after being in such an artistically inspiring place. But sometimes we just know it's time for a change, and Paris did that for me sixteen years ago. I don't know what it will do for me this time. Of course, there is the simple reality that it has given me great pleasure.

Craver... you're so funny. I didn't find the camera, but I did find the street where we stayed and had taken some pictures. In a way, it was more dear this time around because I was sharing it all with my children. And I DID bring home pictures this time 'round.

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahh, Paris. You bring it all back. Can't wait to see what blossoms from the Paris seeds...and I'm praying that Summer's healing is one of those blossoms.

7:28 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...


Luggage arrived at 1:30 am. I'm not even going to ask where the pills in the pouches covered with Greek writing came from in one of the suitcases...

2:36 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

Noooo! Not the strawberry jammmmmmmm!
All the American croissants that were to be immensely helped by your importation will be so sad and WESTERN now. :(
Cruel airport security personnel.

And sewing scissors too?! The outrage. (I've had my own pair swiped at security too. What, I ask you, are we supposed to do on a 12 hour flight EXCEPT sew?!)

Traveling is such an out-of-body experience in so many ways. It is good for our perspectives in the way it shifts us ever so slightly, but just enough to make a marked difference. If we allow it to, I should say.

Pity the confiscated jam.

8:31 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Erin, my girl, you make me laugh so much I can almost forget the scissors. The jam, well, that might take a return visit or two on your part. : )

8:44 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

It just dawned on me the kind of great loot the significant other of an airport security officer must get on their birthday and holidays. Scissors, pinking shears, cologne, hair gel, bottles and bottles and bottles of water, and four jars of gourmet French strawberry jam.

Shakespeare and Company is near our old stomping grounds- but I never dared go in there with two toddlers.

12:04 AM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

I should try to get me a part time job at airport security. I'll bet they have the best white elephant Christmas parties!

12:30 PM  
Blogger Martin Stickland said...

Glad you had a great time my little petit poir!

Nice photos

6:52 PM  
Blogger kirsten said...

welcome back!!

i'm not sure what i want to say here, except that i found something here. maybe it's the thought that we need to lose some things before we find others. and that's a thought worth considering.

peace to you, friend.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Lavonda Pflug said...

As I read your post I hoped you found the camera you lost before.

9:33 PM  
Blogger Rebekah said...

I love your photography here. Beautiful! I would love to go to Paris and many other places in Europe. Maybe some day.....

7:13 AM  

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