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ReviewsMa Belle Vie à Paris – My Beautiful Life in Paris
My Beautiful Life is Paris

Ma Belle Vie à Paris – My Beautiful Life in Paris

Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco, but I left mine in Paris.  While we all sit in quarantine to keep ourselves and others safe, I am in San Francisco looking at videos and photos of Paris on lockdown.  The streets are void of people but filled with my memories. 

“Paris has always been a “visible feast” for me.  People always asked me: “Why do you love Paris so much?’’
Beyond the incredible friends, I am so blessed to have made there, the City of Light is a piece of my soul.  I tell them, “When I’m in Paris I dream in color.  I walk an inch off the ground.  My spirit lights up with creative energy I seem to only have when I’m there.
 
Now, I look at the photos of empty streets, and I remember sitting in that café, shopping in that store, taking that walk.  Memories are flooding washing over my heart and sometimes leaking from my eyes.
 
I have a beautiful life in Paris that I look forward to touching again.  But for now, I am feasting on beautiful memories as I quarantine in the “City by the Bay” – San Francisco.
Cafe de Flore
‘’On 12.January 2019. At vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus qui blanditiis enim ad minima veni um deleniti atque corrupti quos sint occaecati cupiditate corru.’’

My First Apartment

A friend had arranged a rental for me.  It would be for three months and if I was lucky, even longer.  I had extensively researched the neighborhood before arriving and I was excited to check out some of the places I had found.  
 
When I arrived in Paris, it was October 2001, the customs agent looked at my passport and said, “I am sorry for America’s loss.” 
 
It surprised and warmed me to hear him offer condolences for September 11th.  I grabbed a taxi and handed the driver a paper with the address typed on it.  My French was très mauvais (“very bad”).

Entry into my courtyard

Rue de Nesle

Rue de Nesle is a very narrow street and supposedly cars were not allowed, even though I saw many going up and down the narrow little passage, so the driver dropped me and my many bags at the corner and I needed to walk in.  Mind you three months in Paris meant a LOT of bags and I could not figure out how to get them all to the apartment without making two trips, risking the bags I left behind being snatched.  

But this nice guy jumped up from the café, grabbed the extra bag, and gestured for me to lead the way.  The first of many Paris experiences, an unhelpful taxi driver, and a helpful gentleman.

‘’On 12.January 2019. At vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus qui blanditiis enim ad minima veni um deleniti atque corrupti quos sint occaecati cupiditate non provident, culpa quis nostrum exercito mollitia harum quidem rerum facilis est et exp deleniti atque.’’
My friend, Patricia LaPlante Collins, who sadly passed away in 2019, was waiting in the apartment to give me the keys and show me how everything worked.  I was not listening because I was too busy taking it all in and trying not to sob with joy.  
 
It was everything I needed.  It was perfectly situated a short walk across Pont Neuf to the Louvre in one direction and the famous St. Germain des Pres in the other.  The home of Richard Wright, the café’s frequented by James Baldwin, Chester Himes, and Langston Hughes; just steps from my door and part of my neighborhood.
 
My first morning awakening in the apartment I went to the kitchen to make coffee and I burst into tears.  I just kept saying “Thank you, God, thank you God, thank you, God!”  I got “happy” and started to dance as I chanted.  From the age of six, living in Paris has been my dream, and there I was my dream beginning.
 
Until I can get back home to Paris, I shall embrace my memories, call my friends, and count my blessings.  I have a beautiful life in Paris that keeps me hopeful, keeps me happy, and keeps me dreaming.

At the age of six, living in Chicago, Illinois, I saw Paris and San Francisco for the first time between the pages of my World Book Encyclopedias. That began my love affair with books and magazines. It also led me to declare that when I grew up I would live in San Francisco and Paris. While most of us never get to achieve our childhood dreams, I have been able to do so. I've lived in San Francisco since 1984 and got my first apartment in Paris in 2001. For nearly 18 years I have traveled between my two favorite cities on earth, while I enjoy a life of writing, coaching, and speaking. Life for me is a banquet and I am savoring every moment!

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