My Carrie (first part of a longer, better story)
The only place in the world I want to be right now is in Paris with my family. The only other person in the world besides my Mom who helped me begin a love affair with a landlocked place is my Aunt Carrie. I think it took a few trips to realize how hard I had fallen for the place, but sure enough, I moved there for a year. Seeing Paris with her was like taking every artist, composer, and writer who mattered and succinctly making every distinction of beauty and detail of the city with their footnotes. Every doorway or alley my aunt has ever stopped to notice has the same importance of a Rodin sculpture or Hemingway feast. Every open air market is her ball; every city park her sanctuary. I think the purest Parisian moments are always with Carrie. To touch the pulse of the history and magnitude of culture was never difficult, but surely augmented in some story book way with my aunt.
Our trip to Musee Jaquemart-Andre epitomized the perfect Paris day. Carrie stopped an older man for directions, which developed into a painfully cute French conversation (I half remember him in an adorable hat and perfect tweed coat) which ended in laughter and a general brightening of that morning gray which haunts the city for 8 months out of the year. Inside, we not only addressed our love of art, good architecture and French pastries (the museum features one of the most fantastic salons de thé in Paris—or ever), but men, happiness, and love. The only thing missing from the moment was some seriously good music for Carrie to sink her teeth into. It was the first time I felt fully engaged as a newly-transplanted Parisian. The excitement in our voices discussing the Jacques-Louis David exhibit (I think we even saw the incredibly somber Death of Marat) blended in with the quiet murmurs of others stirring under in the lofty ceilings in a fleeting, euphoric art-history geek moment.
It was one of the only times had my aunt all to myself and not just sipping tea on the couch together. The decadent red carpet beneath us as we ate our pastries and took in the 19th century salon added this “lunching ladies” element that felt timeless, like we were Edith Wharton characters - the trip itself felt like an endlessly sprawling day with Carrie not just few hours. This was over six years ago and still I can feel that surge of excitement of that winter morning when I knew I was sharing my aunt with Paris as my compass, my teacher and my friend that had always lived a country or an ocean away from me. Proximity has never hindered her kind heart from staying close to mine.
Je t’aime, Carrie.