Friday, May 21, 2010

Vive la France! Dimanche

There's an infamous sutra in the first pada of Patanjali's text which describes our thoughts as either painful or painless (sutra 1.5). I feel most connected to this concept when I'm on vacation, where the bliss of one's arrival is swiftly replaced by the dread of going home. I hadn't really felt the pangs of leaving until Sunday, which is a testament to how much Paris holds my attention in the present moment. I'm so completely and utterly content that nothing exists beyond the splendors of my surroundings. The sights, the smells, the tastes...they cast their spell on me and I'm as bewitched as I was the very first time I discovered a croque madame made with goat cheese.

I can document my trip with sutras the way some might illustrate with postcards. Carrie Owerko discussed sutra 3.1 in a teachers' workshop earlier this week. "Dharana (concentration) is the binding of the mind to one place, object or idea." It's no wonder, given this idea, that I felt so clear, bright and still over those four incredible days. Granted, I was on vacation, so there were no bills (foreign currency to me is like Monopoly money), no responsibilities and no stress. It's a bit like fantasy land, and yet, nothing feels more real to me than being at home in a place and with people who reflect my true image back to a heart that sometimes feels lost. "The seen exists only for the sake of the Seer" (sutra 2.21).

So, how to spend our last day? At the flea market, of course! This time we perused the goods at Marché Vernaison Saint-Ouen de Clignancourt. The prices are more expensive than those at Porte de Vanves, mainly because vendors rent stalls instead of occupying a piece of sidewalk, but you can find great deals on amazing french housewares like linens, china, and classic french bric-a-brac (think big espresso bowls and red-striped dish towels). Billy tells anyone who'll listen about the time I spent two hours pouring over stacks of antique linen sheets in stall 141 only to have the owner remind me "vous pouvez revenir madame". Oh, and I certainly did. I outfitted every bed in our apartment with vintage monogrammed sheets (some might see this as a strange and troubling issue but let's be honest, you're now secretly hoping to score an invite to sleepover). This trip was equally as successful. I shopped victoriously, scoring a tiny silver tray and some serviettes de visages (lintless towels made especially for the face).

Our next stop was a tour through Le Marais, one of the only neighborhoods open on a Sunday. It's the Soho of Paris, only more french (obviously) as evident in the quaint gardens, medieval stone buildings and chic boutiques. I happened upon a great clothing store named Claudie Pierlot where I bought a beautiful navy blue silk dress (those perfect dresses only arrive when you're not looking). A park bench in Place des Vosges provided the perfect place to rest my legs. The hours passed by as we wandered hand-in-hand on this quintessential Parisian Sunday. A late lunch of moules frites hit the spot and signaled our eventual return to Hôtel Verneuil.

Our evening unfolded at Deux Magots for wine and dinner (salade de fromage). We sat outside and soaked in the crisp night air and the buzz of Boulevard Saint Germain. I felt bold in a bright orange dress and stop-you-in-the-street-"I love your shoes" stilettos. It was exactly how I dreamt our last night would be. I wanted to take a piece of this amazing place home with me, but then I remembered that home is where the heart is and I smiled with delight.

"By contentment, supreme joy is gained" (sutra 2.42).


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