Thursday, August 06, 2009
This is a statue we found in the Montparnasse Cemetary today. It’s called The Separation of the Couple. Could there be a more appropriate statue for me today? Lisa left this morning in a 10:30 taxi. It was sad to say goodbye, even though the crazy driver kept making jokes about stealing her and taking her to Africa. Ha, ha. That…..was……..funny? I watched her taxi drive off and I was already missing her. But you don't want to read about all of this.
We had to check out of our hotel by 11, but the good folks at the Hotel Ajiel let us keep our luggage in a closet since our train wasn't leaving until 6:43. So we had, effectively, one more good day in Paris. And we were all eager to take advantage of it. One pairing left to shop for souvenirs on the Champs, one group headed back up to Montmartre, and I left with Jason, Anna-Marie, Melissa, and Sarah Lucy for Montparnasse. This trip was spurred by Anna Marie's interest in all things Hemingway, and since Montparnasse was sort of his haunt it made sense that we head that way. We started at the Raspail metro station and headed down the Rue Campagne Premiere. Montparnasse is an interesting mix of old and modern. You still get the sense of bohemia, but in the middle of everything is Europe's second largest skyscraper. You will see an elaborate old theatre next to a structure made entirely of glass and a graffiti instillation. It's interesting. You can sense Hemingway and the 1920's, but then it's hard to imagine it at the same time. Lots of changes.
We wandered around the back streets of Montmartre and found some interesting things.
The Rue de la Grande Chaumiere painting and sculpture school. You can see Anna-Marie working on a sculpture of Jason:
La Coupole, where Hemingway and all ex-pats of the lost generation hung out:
The Theatre River Gauche:
La Comedie Italienne (um, nice commedia poses!):
The famous, or infamous, Theatre Montparnasse:
We stopped for lunch and had some baguettes, the official lunch food of france. We sat at little tables outside, and it was fun but sadly I sat in some chocolate and also a wasp kept getting in my torte. But we did people watch, and man - there were some awesome outfits!
After lunch we eventually made it to the showpiece of Montparnasse. That's right, the cemetary! And in a striking chance meeting, we ran into Mandy who had already scoped the place out for us. European cemeteries are different than American ones, in that nobody goes for those little flat headstones you see at, say, the Provo Cemetary. Everythings like a giant Gothic vault. Sometimes they get statues. And it's packed. So it's kind of an adventure to poke around and think about death (other people's.) The Montparnasse Cemetary is the resting place of Serge Gainsbourg, Man Ray, Jean Seberg (!), Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Camille Saint-Saens, and Guy de Maupassant. But we were mostly looking for Samuel Beckett. After talking about him in theatre history back in London, and then having a sad Samuel Beckett party, and then seeing that amazing Godot, we were on a mission. Oddly enough, it took us an hour to find him. We consulted maps - BOY, HOWDY - DID WE CONSULT MAPS - but Beckett was, even in death elusive. We wondered if it was all some cosmic joke. But I finally found him - and his is maybe the most boring, least decorated grave in the whole joint. But we all gathered around and had a special moment. And some of us wrote him messages and left them under a pebble. Drama nerds unite!!!
All too soon, Paris was nothing but a whir out the window of the Eurostar. And I tried to sleep on the train, but my mind was kind of racing. And I was sitting by a two year old girl who only spoke Yiddish and kept poking me with her hair clips. Her mom slept. Well, she didn't poke me the whole time, sometimes she was busy screaming. But she made me homesick anyway. So I was nice to her. I kept reminding myself that soon I would be back in London, and I promised myself a Whopper at Burger King on Gloucester Road. And I kept that promise!!!