Shelter on a rainy day. Read on, in today's story.
to roam, wander, trail along
Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc
Vadrouiller. J'ai vadrouillé toute la journée à Paris, en attendant mon train. To roam. I roamed all day in Paris, waiting for my train.
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A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
I have waited out the rain for two hours in a family run café along Boulevard de la Tour-Maubourg. Family run, if you consider the conical condition of the waitress (a pointy pouch predicates a boy, the French told me, when I was in the same condition as she. Three months later, Max was born, as if by symmetry).
Shouldn't she be resting instead of dashing to-and-fro, drying the raindrops that land in perpendicular plop-plop!-plops! on chairs which line the shoulder of the trottoir?
From my perch, beneath a glass awning, one step up from the flooding sidewalk, raindrops land on the tables, not far from my feet. I have been watching the locals, the vagabonds, the globe-trotters, and the tourists duck into door frames, eke out asylum under awnings, jump puddles, and dash for metro, just opposite, kitty-corner.
I study the darkened square en face. One side is lined with taxis. Out of the question. I will not take a taxi, the price of which represents one night in a youth hostel (single room: 40 euros, no bath, no toilet). I should know: I have been doing homework for my next périple through Paris. (Apropos youth hostels: one doesn't have to be a youth to be hostel, or to lodge in one.)
I stare at the hostile heavens. It is my turn. I must go, must quit entertaining thoughts of how to get the waitress to sit my bags. How she might be bribed—up to 10 euros (yes, it would be worth every centime to be freed of this weight)—to store the bag until my train leaves (at the end of the day...). But visibly, this won't work. I can tell by the way the produce arrives—lettuce, potatoes, céleri-rave, tomatoes—via a delivery truck. (The driver is drinking a complimentary café-au-lait at the bar). I watch the legumes being lowered, via an ascenseur that just appeared, out of the floor, from beneath a large tile—next to where the driver is sipping his complimentary crème. I stare as the lettuce bottoms out into the belly of the bar, disappearing into the basement below, where an invisible chef will labor in cramped quarters for the lunch crowd that arrives at noon.
Every nook and cranny of Paris is filled, by lettuce, a cook, by raindrops.... There is no place for my bag, not here anyway. Not in the 7th arrondissement. But what about the 12th? I will need to take the metro to the Gare de Lyon and search for a baggage sitter.... It is called une consigne isn't it? They do exist, don't they? I have another look at Paris Insider's Guide a free booklet that Clydette gave me. It is chock full of information, everything but where to store one's bags during that precarious "in transit" time: neither here nor there, loaded down with a suitcase filled with books and sportswear... I might be ready for a marathon, but for the books. So many books!
I should call Robin, or Christine or Meredith or Janet or Penelope or Laurel... or Ann... they want to help. Why not let them? I have my doubts. Self-doubts.
Ann! I could go to the American Library. Hang out all day...
Loiterer! Espèce de vadrouilleuse! I look up and notice the pregnant waitress, who is quietly considering me from behind the comptoir. It is time to press on. Liberate this perch for another self-conscious, soaking, stranger.
I pay for the tartine and the two crèmes.... Leave a tip for a college fund, never mind that the university is free. Maybe the unborn child will study aux états-unis? Next, I wait in the corner café until a light at the end of the crosswalk turns green at which point I travel, perpendicularly, like the rain, jaywalking across the intersection. Beyond, I see the cannons of the Invalides. The eyes at the end of their barrels are watching me.
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