Monday, January 16, 2012

le weekend, part I

Our weekday routine is in full swing.  Annabelle’s school days are long, Naud’s work days even longer and I am the juggler of all things new and foreign.  I have yet to unveil the many mysteries of Parisian life and there’s always enough on my plate to keep me on my toes.  We fall into bed each night with heavy eyelids and little desire to do more than keep house and brush our teeth.

The harried pace of our week necessitates that Saturday and Sunday remain relatively free form.  For now, we’ll take it.  Or at least some of us will.  Annabelle prefers to map out the weekends and struggles to grasp the notion of fluidity.  By the time Saturday rolls around, she’s aiming for ‘all fun all the time’ in what I liken to a bad case of ‘tourist’s syndrome’.  We know it hasn’t sunk in that we live here when she refers to the past month and a half as ‘this trip’. 

DSC_6688 not just passing through

We can’t blame the kid.  It’s not as if Naud and I have fully adhered to the bizarre notion of Paris as 'home’.  The difference is that we have to be grownups about it.  We have to say, hey, if we don’t buy more toilet paper, the rolls that came with our apartment will run out.  We have to do the work.  So we buy toilet paper and change the light bulbs and do all the normal stuff.  We still haven’t been to the Louvre.  Not on this trip, anyway.

Saturday before last, we had no plans as usual.  Somewhere along the way, we stumbled upon the entrance to the BHV (bay-osh-vay).  The BHV (Bazar de l’Hotel de Ville) is a legendary Parisian department store (equivalent to an upscale Target) with seven floors of everything under the sun.   Nearly everyone goes there for essentials, whether they want to or not.  The alternative is to spend twice the money, time and effort at some obscure store that carries just one thing.

DSC_6702  we went all the way to the BHV (pronounced ‘bay-osh-vay’)

The French are lovely, gracious people but efficiency is not in their veins, bless their souls.  I have accepted this fact yet the longer we live here, the more I find myself cutting corners to avoid waiting.  Unfortunately, this method is short-lived and all roads eventually lead to the BHV.

Despite its reputation as a catchall for everything you might need, kitchen sink included, I’d been avoiding the BHV for weeks.  Shopping tends to bring out the worst in me, so I figured I would hold out for as long as possible.   As if the magnitude of the store weren’t enough of a deterrent, rumor on the street was that it was hotter than hot sauce in there.

As I stood before the threshold, armed with moral support and two additional sets of hands, I knew my time had come.  “Let’s take a quick peek,” I suggested.  They bought it.  Heck, I bought it.  It wasn’t until we were sucked into the inner vortex that I realized there was no getting out empty handed. 

There we pillows on sale.  We needed pillows!  We found storage containers, wine glasses, table linens and a handy folding cart with wheels for the kitchen.  We bought an even smaller cookie sheet because the last one we purchased was two centimeters too big; and in a moment of weakness, we succumbed to the wiles of a new-fangled can opener. 

It was hot in there.  Really hot.  We cast off gloves, scarves, coats and sweaters in feverish succession.  Relief came in the form of a cracked window on the back wall of the kitchen department.  My theory is that the stifling heat is the store’s way of saying, take your coat off and stay awhile.

DSC_6695 walking home with our loot

After what seemed like an eternity, we emerged from the sauna-like conditions with full hands and empty bellies.  Dinnertime was approaching.  Annabelle was in a mood and I can’t say I blamed her.  She sometimes does this unnerving thing where she acts the way I feel.  It really gets under my skin.  I want to say, “Grow up!”, but I don’t because that is the inevitable.  Instead, I dole out consolation carousel rides. 

DSC_6703 somewhat consoled by a double decker carousel

The walk home was no picnic.  We made quite the entourage, lugging our goods by Notre Dame, across Pont Neuf, along the Seine, and back to our apartment.  Naud gripped the folding kitchen cart in one hand and a bulky plastic bin in the other, Annabelle toted the salad spinner and I’m pretty sure I sprained my finger carrying an odd-size storage bin filled with all manner of kitchen gadgets.  As we trudged along, I felt a twinge of satisfaction in the knowledge that I was no longer a tourist and I had the can opener to prove it. 

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