leaving for a month to get perspective. To think and sleep. This is not a
typical vacation, no. Just like James Baldwin told a half a century ago, we
need leave to understand ourselves and our own culture better.
people ask me about our itinerary, I start getting itchy. I want my kids to see
"everything" and we should travel out of the city and maybe pop over
to London too, right? I mean, we are weird homeschoolers who can turn a trip to
the dentist or watch repair shop into a full blown field trip. We are good at
extracting any learning opportunity around.
sometimes we know better.
why we do Paris, or any place we travel, a bit differently.
certainly see some big sites and museums, but probably much like we do when we
are home, during off hours and only as long as it holds our interest.
emphasis will be on what we want
to do, not what we should
itinerary looks like this:
going to the oldest pastel making atelier
to buy art supplies from the same
family that Degas and Cassatt used.
daughter and I will window shop and buy nail polish to give each other
going to the bird and flower market
for my son.
having a birthday picnic for another son under the Eiffel Tower.
loading up on European office supplies and my husband will bring back as much
food as he can. We are the type of people who bring back flour, salt and
macaroons on Pont des Arts. The kids have already picked their
see what is left of the stuffed animals at Deyrolle
spend a lot of time food shopping and park walking. Puppet shows, organ
concerts, street musicians, and people
watching will be our entertainment.
husband and I will alternate mornings to ourselves. Solo wanderings, cafe
sitting and writing will be a balm for our very, very tired souls.
are learning about a handful of important French historical moments. We have
read about Joan d'Arc, Monet, Jacques Cousteau, and the French Revolution. If
they come back with real connection to any of these characters (or someone altogether different), the trip will be a success.
be so easy to suck the excitement of discovery out of this trip for them (and
us). By filling every day with an activity and expectation, we sell the
experience short and miss out on the real life changing stuff. Instead of
seeing a wide swath of the surface of Paris, I want them to know a handful of locales/flavors/experiences deeply. And being that we a family of 5, if we all have a few things to
investigate the sum will be wide enough.
travel as a way to open up and reconsider the things we think we know so well.
Our own culture, our ways, and our selves. The exploration and the process of
seeing with new eyes is the
golden nugget, not clicking off sites and memorizing shallow
seeing the Mona Lisa, they need to know the way the chestnut leaves flutter in
early spring, so light and delicate as if they were made of silk.
to enter fromageries and have our breath taken away. By both odor and variety.
I want my
kids to turn a corner in the urine-soaked metro only to be moved to tears by an
orchestra playing Pacabel or a gyspy kid playing the accordion.
want us all to experience something so new and unexpected we did not even know
we were looking for it.
the next month or so, most regularly planned broadcasting in this space will be disrupted. I
will post from Paris, some images and few thoughts.
too are a francofile, and would like to receive some mail from me, I am offering
a subscription letter service. I will be writing a dispatch from Paris each week. The letters will include stories, tips, observations, recipes
and little bits of ephemera. It is a new project for me, and I am really
looking forward to it! You can read more and sign up here
please feel free to send me any tips or blog posts that you think would be