It was Thursday, January 7, 2010, Day 2 of our trip to bring Lara to her study abroad time. It was 27 degrees F in Paris, with only a light dusting of snow on the ground this morning. Not much wind. A hint of sun peeking out among the clouds. Why is it that even snow over cars, bikes, and sidewalks seems so chic here?
Our hotel was pure sensory overload—La Bellechasse du St. Germain, has flooded our senses since we checked-in the day before. The décor is á la Christian Lacroix. So like his style–over the top. You almost expect it to be gaudy but somehow, it works and the place was appealing and engaging. Our room had literally floor to ceiling murals of old Paris scenes. Even the door knobs were so ornate, we wondered if it was hand-made. The details were impressively stylish and refined.
I will never understand the Europeans and their handheld showers on footed tubs with only half doors. I always end up getting the floor all wet! In contrast to our amply decorated sleeping quarters, the bathroom is a Zen retreat of slate and metal.
The breakfast room was a feast for the eyes! We could not help but gawk at the scenes from one wall to the other. Needless to say, the food was superb: Butter croissants and pastries still warm from the oven, hot cocoa, fresh yoghurt, fruits, cheese—ah, heaven!
We spent the rest of the day walking around the 7th arrondissement (to walk off all the rich food we had been eating!) and just soaking-in the beauty of this city, even in the middle of winter. Paris is a timeless beauty—anytime!
We had dinner at Gaya Rive Gauche on Rue de Bac last night. It’s still a Pierre Gagnaire establishment, more a bistro compared to his restaurant. Known as the “bad boy” of Paris cuisine, he’s quite unconventional and very daring. We did starve ourselves during the day so we can take all the liberties at dinner. What a meal that was!
Towards the end of the short trip, we took the Metro to the 16th Arrondisement to see the home of Lara’s soon-to-be host family. The neighborhood looked very upscale, and pretty.
It was situated at the edge of Paris. It was going to take her 30-40 minutes by Metro to get to school every day. I rationalized to myself that the 16th is known to be a safe neighborhood and very residential. I was leaving my baby in a few days to fend for herself in this big city for the next six months! What was I thinking? I mentally slapped myself around so I could come to my senses. “I have to let go. I have to let go.”
And so, this was my mantra as I made my way back home to the Bay Area on a long flight back alone. What is it about bringing a child into this world that makes one so committed, so entrenched in one’s very being? I don’t think there is another human experience so painful, so all-encompassing, and so exquisitely beautiful and rewarding as being a parent. Louie and I have been doing this “holding-on and letting-go” dance since Lara started high school. It has been filled with bittersweetness. More of the sweet, of course. It became more poignant when we handed her the keys to her car when she was a junior. She did not need for us to drive her everywhere for her numerous activities. The severing of the proverbial umbilical cord accelerated just a bit more.
They say that we parents graduate from managers to consultants in our children’s lives as they grow up to become men and women. This is a role we need to understand and agree to graduate to, for the sake of our kids, and our long-term relationship with them. The biggest mistake is to think we can still manage their lives forever. We only have to look at some of our relatives and friends to see how that could be a recipe for disaster.
Let us enjoy our kids as long as we still can!