Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Day 8: A moment, in great detail

While cooking dinner, we run out of creme fraiche.  "Don't worry," I say, "I'll go get it."

I leave the apartment.  Our apartment is on the ground floor of an old building.  In between our door and the entrance lies a fire door.  There are two apartments and the door leading to the inner courtyard on my side of the fire door; on the other side are the mailboxes and a beautiful lobby with marble slabs on the floor and a sweeping staircase.  I have never gone up the staircase, I have never even put my foot on the bottom stair.  On this afternoon, I walk through without really noticing anything about my surroundings.

Outside, I walk about two blocks to the epicerie, a little Casino.  The day is bright with the late-spring sun, and the pavement smells a little bit.  It doesn't smell bad, really, just like a hot day, kind of a pleasant scent.  I walk up my street to the main road, Gambetta.  I will soon learn that there is a boulevard Gambetta in every city in France, but for now, it's the only Gambetta I know.  It runs along the Arab neighborhood, so every afternoon small stores set out bunches of cilantro and mint, the necessities needed for almost all North African meals.  It is lined with sycamore trees.

On my left I pass a kebab shop.  It is Jube's favorite, because they make compact burrito-like kebabs with fries inside.  It is not my favorite. It is set inside a shop with pretty mosaic work.  Just past the kebab shop is the Casino epicerie.  It is full of the necessities for French meals - wine, yogurt, lardons, butter, charcuterie, and creme fraiche, of course.  I pick up a small pot and check out.  I pay with cash since the shop won't let you pay with a credit card unless your total is at least 5 Euros.

On my way back, I walk more slowly.  The sun is still shining, but since I am under the sycamore trees, the light is diffuse and green.  I think to myself, "Remember this moment. You are living in France, you just stepped out of your apartment to pick up something you needed at the corner store.  You'll never feel this way again."  I take a deep breath, smelling the pavement again, and then I hurry again to get back to our apartment.

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