Paris day 2: just call me compass
I head out the hotel take a right and manage to find the Seine river. This is my goal because I figure it will be less difficult for me to get lost. I’ve got such great location radar. It is like my intuition just takes me there. I pat myself on the back (mentally because I’m running of course). And notice that I can go down off the sidewalk and run on a path right alongside the river. I do that and head to the right to see what else is downstream. Not terribly interesting plus the path runs out, so I turn back. I’m at Notre Dame. It is amazing. So Gothic. How cool. The path turns to cobble stones. Great big uneven ones with gaps that are rarely filled in. I go underneath a bridge. Instead of being able to look around, I need to watch my feet . This gets me to daydreaming about falling. Oh, I could hit the corner of that and twist my ankle. Oh, I could get my toe smushed in there and fall over and hit my face and knock out a tooth or get a concussion. And I don’t have any ID on and I would be taken nameless to a hospital. It isn’t much fun after awhile, kind of like skiing down a rutted moguly ski slope in fog. So I go back up on the sidewalk.
There aren’t many people out yet. I’ve got on my 70s disco music in homage to the old city. I avoid a street sweeper here, a bicyclist there, nothing major. Notice people down below again and realize it is because there are no cobbles. In fact, they have closed off a two way street at river level – for people to run, walk and ride on. There are hundreds of people down there. So I join the pack, pass the Palace and Louvre, reach the Tour d’Eiffel and head back. I am a Paris runner! The City welcomes me! I try not to stare too hard at the French men who pass. Most of them are older men and almost all of them are running in tights. Well, they like speedos so this is a natural progression. I guess.
Leave the Seine, head back to my hotel. Or think I am. After all – I am a navigator extraordinaire. Except that I’m somehow in the 5th and I’m supposed to be in the 6th. And once I leave the river, there are no landmarks – everything is the same height. By now I’ve run for as long as I meant. I’m not worried, because, c’est la vie. I’m a Paris runner! But another fifteen minutes pass and I realize, I don’t have a dime on me either. I could be stuck in this maze. My legs might stop wanting to run. I may start to get anxious.
I used to take piano lessons from Mrs. Husted. I loved her. She lived about a mile away from me if you cut through the hills and forests, a bit longer if you kept to the roadways. One day after lessons, when I was about eight, I was sure I could get home. Up her street to the right down the big long hill, turn left. And then I got stuck. I was walking but it seemed so much farther than I had imagined. I started crying. What if I was lost here forever, would my parents miss me. Would my sisters and baby brother think of me. What if a bad person grabbed me. I would never be able to go home again. Oh how pitiful I looked. And a kindly old woman walked out of her house and invited me inside. I had visions of snow white being tricked by the wicked witch. But I decided to be brave and went inside and fortunately I remembered my number and she called and my grandpa came to pick me up. You probably figured something like that because here I am four decades later and alive.
Well in any event, I keep running and see a gate that looks familiar. It is! It is the Luxembourg garden gate. I run inside. The summer flowers are still in bloom, children are navigating their remote controlled yachts in the pond, people are walking and running around. Yes! I am on the right track. I relax and enjoy the beauty. And then I realize it is a bit bigger than I thought. I’m not sure which way to turn. See a police officer who tells me how to proceed in rapid French but with hand signals. I’ve been going in exactly the opposite direction. Merci beaucoup! I beam, and head off again, but I only could understand part of what he said. And am a bit lost again until I see a little man. He reminds me of my uncle Marceau. Goes up to my shoulder and is scowling. I brave it and ask him for the St. Suplice. He points in a direction close to where I considered going before I apparently made another wrong decision. Merci Beaucoup! I beam, and head off again and voila. There it is. The fountain, the cathedral, the hotel. I am saved. I am also going to have to figure out a better way to remember my route. Maybe I’ll drop bread crumbs.