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2 days till I take the fifth

This is my fifth journey to Paris. I went in 1971 with my boyfriend who was escaping the VietNam draft. We flew into London from Los Angeles, and then got to Paris where we rented a fifth-floor, no-elevator, cold-water apartment with Turkish toilets. I was going to work as a maid. That plan lasted two weeks and then I hitchhiked to Spain.

I went to Paris again in 1975, this time from Chicago, joining another boyfriend after his international law study trip. For several days we argued as we walked along the Seine. He took lots of pictures.

I took the train through Paris in 1978 on my dash back to Heathrow from Sorrento, Italy. A pope had just died, and I was rushing to catch a flight home to Albuquerque. I waited 12 hours for a train to Calais in a dismal, stuffy room with an Irish guy, a Californian, and 35 scary Algerian men. The Irishman met me in a tea room once we were through passport control,  furious that he had been strip-searched in Folkestone.

In 2002 I flew from Utah to Paris with my husband and three sons for a three-week vacation using my mother’s inheritance money. From our apartment, we went to Parc Asterix twice, saw a huge gay pride parade, toured museums, and watched Brazil win the World Cup on TV. The boys bought French Magic cards.

This trip will be different again, and I’ll taste another slice of Paris. No Magic cards, Parc Asterix, or World Cup this time around. But I’ll have conversations with my 23-year-old, 1971 self, sifting dreams in cafes, bending time in front of Degas.

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