I just finished reading My Life In France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'Homme. A friend gave me the book to read a few months ago and I had absolutely zero idea how inspiring it would be. All I remember of Julia Child was she that she was that funny, always slightly drunk English lady who did The French Chef shows I saw as re-runs on PBS. In reality, she was a 6 foot 2, hilariously funny, native Californian (how did I confuse that??) who moved to France in 1949 at age 36 without a word of French and proceeded to discover her true calling here to which she would devote the rest of her life to....the art of French cuisine. I almost choked when I read that she lived on the exact same street that I just moved to and I finished the book in tears as I was so moved by her tales of falling in love with France and all things French. Today I went down the street to visit the building she lived in a lifetime ago. I grinned as I stood there, imagining her life here and smiling at my own adventure 60 years later.
Oui, c'est vrai. I just moved into the 7th arrondissement by a random stroke of chance that gave me a small and very cheap apartment near the Seine with a magical and beautiful quiet view. I had wanted to live in the heart of the music scene, in the 18th or the 20th but this apartment fell out of the sky and gave me an unexpected turn.
All my life I have lived on the outskirts of a city, both in Los Angeles and New York. I have always lived above a bodega or a cheap restaurant, I have always had cockroach problems, rats on the front stoop and a roof that caved in every time it rained hard. I laughed out loud the first day we moved in and I saw that the store downstairs is actually a realtor who only sells castles. Not houses. Castles. As in, real BIG castles. "Honey, I'm just going downstairs to get some milk and a castle, be right back...."
I panicked my first week here. Each time I walked out the door in my worn Converse sneakers, I thought someone would surely throw me out of here. I feel like an outsider in this area. It is rich, beautiful, soft, manicured and quiet. There are lots of old people....old women who slowly walk to the market in beautiful old dresses and smart summer hats. Old men with canes and old couples who stroll down the sidewalk with a dignity from a time long gone by. Not only am I out of my element in a foreign country, but I am also in a part of a city I would have never EVER thought to actually live in. What? No one puked on my front doorstep? No dead rat in the hallway? No heroin addict from the first floor banging on my door asking for money again?
So this is my Paris adventure continued, always something unexpected and always something new to be inspired by to write more music. There are interesting people to be found wherever you live, there are stories to be heard if only you just ask, and there is art to be made no matter where you are. Make your own scene....just buy your groceries in a cheaper part of town.
As Julia Child would say, "Bon appétit!"