After an awestruck afternoon in la Palais Garnier, (it must be a dream to attend a performance there, parading your fashionable way up the grand staircase to your plush seat under Leurox’s fictional (or is he?) Phantom’s chandelier and Chagall’s strikingly whimsical ceiling), I sprinted through a downpour of summer rain to “the nearest cafe” – which ended up being the Cafe de la Praix. I sat with a window to the Opera unaware of the Cafe’s historical significance as I read my book and sipped an overpriced cappuccino under the ornate golden decor. It was not until an online search later at home that I realized where I had sat.
Charles Garnier designed the Cafe in 1862. Oscar Wilde had his last lover’s quarrel here before his death, probably while sipping absynthe. Hemingway wrote many of his passages for The Sun Also Rises here, perhaps while comfortably sitting at the window to the enclosed terrace. Marlene Dietrich caused traffic jams on the Place de l’Opéra with her frequent appearances at the Cafe.
So there was I earlier today, reading my Hemingway book, unable to resist temptation and ordering an $18 chocolate eclair, then watching the endless traffic go by through the heavy rain that ushered me through the Cafe’s doors.
I am still catching up on sleep, and mostly running on adrenaline and caffeine at work. My masters classes are also winding down so I have been running to catch up in time for finals next week too!
We landed back in the USA on Monday afternoon, April 28, which feels like AGES ago. I enjoyed a spacious seat on the second floor of the Boeing 747. Air France hooked us up with champagne and surprisingly good snacks. Of course I enjoyed a baguette and cheese with my wine for one last time! My bed, my family, the dog, DD ice coffee, the shower, my morning commute, chicken for dinner…it is all the same again and yet nothing has felt as monotonous or as dull as it had seemed before I embarked on this trip. I know that I needed a break from the norm, but I was surprised at how happy I was to be back into it! I thought I would have a hard time getting back to my regular routine, and although a large part of me wanted to keep traveling on into the “new”, I was relieved to come back to the “usual”. It was…comforting, and I even felt refreshed despite my physical fatigue. I feel revived emotionally and mentally. I hope this new outlook is sustainable! I do feel strongly that it is. It is as if I have left behind some baggage. And yet, all of my bags came home with me.
That may have sounded all romantic, but it was actually a business meeting I set up with my contacts overseas in the UK. Julie Slater (pictured, left) and Kim Walton (pictured, right) from the Outwood Grange School in the UK met me (do I have to say, pictured, middle?!) Sunday in Paris to plan an international exchange between our two schools. We are super psyched about it and are kicking it off with a Leadership Exchange between our teachers the first week in June. Participating students and teachers will (hopefully) use the Ning social network tool to manage their virtual exchanges and culminate the project with a travel experience. AND, I did manage to carry that big umbrella to the airport and through customs and recovered it at Logan. It is an Outwood Grange tradition that the umbrella be pictured with all international students and teachers. I couldn’t say no!