Dear Friends,

This is just a quick note accompanied by zero pictures, because I have to tell you what happened today.

Ever since my time ran out at the lovely apartment in the 19th arrondisement, I’ve been traveling (Amsterdam and London), and living in hotels all over Paris and on its outskirts. I stayed for three days in a hotel near Parc Disneyland that had a wicked goat-cheese bruschetta. I stayed for one night at Hotel Moderne du Temple that left bed bug bites all over my neck and back. It was like a disgusting, welty case of hickeys. Never stay there! I stayed for three nights in the Campanile Paris Est by the Gallieni bus terminal, which was clean but didn’t have a working television… that wasn’t a problem, because it had no bed bugs (now, that’s my main criteria– no bed bugs, and a decent shower). At the moment. I’m staying in a hotel so far from Paris that I feel like I’m in Brussels. It’s an hour away.

My aunt came into town today, so I met her at her hotel, Median Chatillon, which is at the southwest edge of Paris, and two trains, twenty minutes walking, and two hours away from here. It’s far; even if I were still in zone one of Paris, it’d be far. Anyway, we had a lovely day taking in the amazing views from the steps of the Sacre Coeur cathedral, where one can see the entire city, followed by a roast chicken and fries dinner, which was much more fabulous than the simple concept implies. The chicken was swimming/relaxing/chillin’ in its own juices… I swear even my french fries were molesting its plateside companion– that chicken! After dinner and walking around historic and lively Montmarte, my aunt and I stopped and watched a film crew set up, the Eiffel Tower in all its lighted glory, and took some pictures of the trams, and the drummers and dancer on the steps. Fantastic.

At nine, we boarded the train, thinking it was time to call it a night…. then we boarded another train, ’cause like I told you my aunt’s hotel is pretty far (the last stop on the #13 train). We walked… then I went up to her room, we spoke a bit, and I said, “Let me not dilly dally ’cause it’s getting late.” I actually said that, didn’t just think it. Please stay with me.

When I arrived at Invalides, where it’s necessary to make the connection to the RER C for Petit Vaux, I noticed the train to Versailles-Chantiers wasn’t running. Yes, this worried me a bit, but I figured once I got to Juvisy, where I needed to transfer, there would be more notices for the train headed to the right direction. I got to Juvisy a few minutes after 11p.m, and wouldn’t you know it there were no more trains. The screens were off. Off.

Now, I’m in the suburbs of Paris with no train running, and all the information windows closed, what was I to do?! I saw two guys and asked them if there was any taxi or bus to Petit Vaux, and they told me that the buses don’t run this late. I started having serious 1996 Long Island flashbacks (that’s scary). Hamesh, one of the very nice guys, told me that I should take the train to Epinay-sur-Orge and walk to Petit Vaux, which would be no more than a fifteen minute walk. An aside: he asked me if I had any kids, and told me now’s the time to start (all in perfect English… he’s from a part of India that I can’t pronounce). Mind you, I was kind of stranded and Hamesh thought it time to start a conversation about my child-bearing years.

I followed Hamesh’s advice (I like saying that name), and took the train to Epinay-sur-Orge; however, when I got off the train I had no idea where I was going or which direction to walk in. All the police officers that are at the station in the day, are fast alseep in their beds at midnight. And now I ask you, wouldn’t it make more sense to have officers patrolling at night and not five of them staring at each other in the daytime? I stood confused for a minute, and then I saw a young, dreadlocked guy coming down the train steps, also having just gotten off the Epinay train. I asked him if he knew how to get to the hotel Premiere Classe, and he started pointing and explaining. He walked me to the bus stop, but the buses had stopped running. The screen was off. Off.

Then, he asked me if I’d mind if he went home and got his car so that he could give me a lift to the hotel. Mind? Do people ever resist being saved? I couldn’t thank him enough with my minimal French and his same amount of English. It seems that “You saved me!” doesn’t translate. His name is Them, he’s from the Ivory Coast, pursuing a Ph.D in Political Science. This man is an angel, and if you ever meet him tell him I told you so. Them is his name.

So, because of Them, I’m writing you from my hotel room with the bathroom shaped like a submarine’s, and not from the side of the road… Thanks Them!