Fiction Daily.
A blog on writing, writers and why we read. Posted most mornings by Marion Blackburn.
Paris days, Part Three
Guest blogger Gene Downs's post about reading Victor Hugo's great novel, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, opened a window to my year in Paris.

It's not something I talk about often. It risks sounding pretentious to say I lived in Paris.

In fact, it was a time of enormous highs and lows -- the ecstacy of walking along the Seine in ice and snow at 2 a.m. feeling it was a sparkling dream. Walking past the great mother cathedral, Notre Dame, every day. Drinking coffee at a sidewalk table with friends discussing Karl Marx, Eugene Ionesco, Samuel Beckett and Jesus.

It was also a time when I rarely had enough money. Many days I had only a few centimes in my pocket, the equivalent of pennies. I got frostbite during what was the coldest winter in 100 years, wearing thin vinyl boots I bought at Belk's in Rocky Mount, N.C.

My little room had ice on the inside of the windows. The showers were freezing, the toilets were "turkish" i.e. standing room only, and my room was in the gables on the seventh floor of an old hotel.

Sometimes I drank too much, was sad too much, thought too much. Other times I was joyful and free in the way only a 23-year old can be.

I worked hard, with about 23 course hours a week, and completed a master's degree in one semester, with a 50-page thesis, in French, on Marcel Proust's Combray.

AHEAD: Several years passed. I forgot how to conjugate verbs, not to mention all those masculin and feminine nouns. Alas! Then, in 2007, I discovered the romance again.
2008-01-18 15:46:54 GMT
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