We were just a few blocks from the Parmentier Metro station when it started to rain. A subtle but steady Paris rain that makes everything look gray with a kiss of soft lighting, as if the sun were trying to break through the Parisienne firmament. The No.3 Line had transported us from the quaint little neighborhood on the 19th arrondissment north of the city’s center where our Paris apartment sat snug between other neobaroque buildings on Avenue Secretan. Parisians walked on undisturbed under heavy drops, solidifying the French term “flauner” or idle wonderer. It was easy to spot the tourist running about for a bit of cover – I insisted my troop casually walk to the nearest cafe as if making a very scheduled stop. Nothing worst than not being Roman when in Rome.
A quick but inconspicous look down at our iPhone to verify the GPS had us on the right track for la tour Eiffel. But after more than two decades waiting to experience this architectural wonder, this delectable cliche, this unmistakable iconic superstructure, it seemed Paris would have us wait just a few minutes longer, as we ordered the prescribed creme brûlée for dessert and countless rounds of cafe creme. The empty cups and accompanying saucers, drained of all foam and caffeine atop the three tables we’d managed to cram together under the cafe’s striped awning, were like abandoned ceramic carcasses from a past era. And for a wonderful, memorable and elusive instant we forgot our itinerary, we forgot where we were heading to next in our “must-see” list, we forgot about the rain, we forgot to take pictures, we set aside all the things that prevent us from living in the moment and we were at that precise moment…in Paris.