Friday, October 29, 2010

The Poetry of Time

Jet lag is a dark morning, awake hours before the rest of the world, contemplating the gift of this trip, and the muscles aching after hauling luggage around the Paris metro system. There is a bagel for breakfast instead of baguette, and a good shower a few footstps from my bed.

The flight home took 9 hours and 40 minutes, and I needed every second to shift gears back into my American personality. (I'm not sure I made it.)

The flight was uneventful, and gloriously empty, so I could stretch, squirm, and breathe deep again in the expansiveness of American space, something I sorely missed in France. With no seatmate next to me, I created an in-flight studio, and worked steadily for several hours. (This caught the attention of one of the stewards, to whom I offered a portrait. He didn't take me up on it.)

But I sorely miss speaking in French too, and my morning walk around the Montparnasse neighborhood. On the other hand, no more bundling up under cloudy skies and unseasonably cold temps. A glorious sunset greeted me last evening curbside at the airport, and temps for the next few days will be in the 70's here.

Gone are the French pout, the vertical jaunt to their step (born of claustrophobic space), and the extravagant elixir they call coffee. I still don't quite trust the ubiquitous American smile, but it does make for a more pleasant environment overall. And I will head for Starbucks today for my welcome-home coffee.

I do not miss the bathroom down the hall, or the shower two flights up, or dodging the strikes. But after dispensing with the blow dryer in a country that invented bad hair day, I know I will have to be somewhat more well-groomed here in the South. And I cannot wear the same thing four days in a row.

So the 'bilan' (resume) is in progress, the laundry will start soon, and emails will be beaten back. No more standing on my head, walking around a facility, waiting for one more bar to get a fluid internet connection. I am back in Tyrone, to continue to cultivate the stretch of Kingdom the Lord has given me here.

A Facebook friend posted this little bit of fun: and I highly recommend Eric Maisel's A Writer's Paris. Whether or not you're a writer, he has masterfully captured the essence of time spent in Paris, and some quirky little fun spots to check out.

I don't enjoy having to make these huge psychological shifts as I go back and forth between cultures, because I never feel like I have enough time to make the shifts. Duty calls, phones ring, invitations come, emails clobber, and there is a manuscript of poems are waiting to be organized. But there is a poetry of time too, as this ad in CDG airport reminded me; a time to stop and notice: what did God do? I don't want to miss that. And I want to thank him, deeply, for the gift he just gave me. Otherwise I am the child on Christmas morning, ravaging open gifts, barely seeing what I open, in my eagerness to get to the next one. Just another toy on the toy pile.

I close with my mantra for these journeys, with their paradoxical mingle of joy and sorrow: ‘Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”—Dr. Seuss

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