July 2, 2009

Paris calls out

Posted in Daily life, Memories tagged , , , at 10:20 pm by Lauren

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of our return to the States, leaving our year in Paris behind. It’s a small coincidence that it would be on June 30 then that I had a strong reminder of our time there.

Flash back to March 2003 – Not a year out of college, I return to France with my mom and my friend Sara to visit Paris and Montpellier. One day at Place de la Tertre in Montmartre, a small oil painting catches my eye, and like many tourists before me, I haggle with the artist until we find a price we can agree on. At the time, it was a big expenditure for me at almost $60. But I loved the sepia-toned scene that was so Parisian, and yet not explicitly in Paris (no Eiffel Tower, or other recognizable monuments). I handed over my euros (or was it still francs at the time? euros, I think) and have never regretted it.

I found a small metal easel to display my painting on, and it graced my apartment in Dunn Loring, then the one Allen and I shared in Rosslyn, then our condo for two years. When we moved to the house in DC, I packed it up very carefully and put it in a safe place.

Now I don’t mean that I put it somewhere safe. I mean, I put it in a safe place. And you know what that means? I put it in a safe place means that I put it somewhere so safe and so hidden, that it would be safe even from me for a very long time. When anything valuable of mine goes missing, I know immediately that I put it in a safe place. (Another recent example: my aunt gave me cash to put towards framing these two beautiful lace doilies made by my grandfather’s mother and my grandmother’s sister. And do you know where that cash is now? I don’t either. I put it in a safe place.) And that painting was no exception. I put it in a safe place in August 2006, I moved everything, and I didn’t see that painting again…until yesterday.

(The painting’s safe place? A Harry & David pear box that I felt compelled to save because of the beautiful pattern. It has been in plain sight near the washing machine for months. It’s a miracle that I didn’t throw it and my beautiful painting away.)

Small enough coincidence that I would find the painting again a year after we moved away, but I wouldn’t think a single thing of it if there weren’t a bigger coincidence lying within. When I pulled that little painting out of its safe place, I suddenly knew exactly where in Paris it was. I’d never thought much about it before – pretty stone bridge, typical Parisian apartment buildings, the Seine, the trees – it was just Paris. But yesterday, on the anniversary of moving back from Paris, I found that painting, and I saw the Seine with Pont Marie stretching above it towards Rue des Deux Ponts and the first few buildings on Quai d’Anjou to the left there, where another inch of canvas would have revealed our Ile Saint Louis apartment.

To end my little reminiscence, I will share some pictures.

Here is my painting from Place de Tertre:


Here is a picture that Allen took of Pont Marie, facing away from our apartment:

Pont Marie from our apartment

For a view of Pont Marie facing towards our apartment, where you can see the shape of the buildings across Rue des Deux Ponts, click here.



  1. Sara Stroman said,

    I remember that day in 03, well! I have my small drawing/painting of Paris waiting to be hung up in my new room. I’m glad you found it and on such a good day, too–your anniversary!

  2. Sarah said,

    Ahhhhh! That is such a cool coincidence!!

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