Project and Travel Blog
I am dreaming, my time clock is out of whack! I awake in the middle of the night from dreams of myopic turmoil. I roll over on my side pull my knees up and lie there a while then finally I roll over throw the covers off, reach for the light cord in the dark, find it and turn on the blinding light. I am sweaty, the room is hot and I haven't adjusted to the sounds of the city so I have the window closed. Standing I and go to the window and open it. Looking out I see a rainy Paris, Another rainy day I left Seattle in a driving rain storm the last three months were soggy there, only to arrive in Paris, the city of light, which is now dark and raining as well. As I lean out a whining motor scooter splashes down the Rue de Luxembourg. Its driver a smallish looking dark presence leaning into the wind and weather, wet. I avoid my phone and its clock I go over to the wall by the door and turn down the heat. As I turn I look at my ever so charming room The bath is all grey white marble, the walls are covered in paintings and the ceiling beams are old old old, full of worm holes and charm. I go round the bed and climb in and shut the light, lie down on my side pull my knees up and tell my self the time in Seattle is one in the afternoon and I am wide awake. I roll one way then the other and think I am asleep and then I don't know and then I am awake drink some water then back at it convincing myself I am going to sleep. I itch here I itch there, maddening. Next when I am really sleeping soundly I hear the maid rapping lightly on the door and from a dream of waves and roaring I shout out, "thank you" and roll over to go back to sleep. It seems as though I get to really sleeping for a moment the maids want to freshen up the room. Once again she raps, once again I shout and close my eyes. I didn't put out the do not disturb sign last night. Again rapping, OK I shout through the carved wooden door and a voice quiet and respectful comes back through the oak door, a soft mellifluous voice calls "It's me your son Nevis."
I rip open the door wrapped in my bathrobe. Have we missed breakfast I ask, he smiles, it's 1:30, he says. He and Morgan are all dressed and fresh. I feel a little looney like some old uncle. Some how it comes into my mind that one time my dad went to visit my alcoholic uncle who lived in a small cheap hotel in the skid row area of Seattle. While my dad went in the saloon, he had me sit on the steps outside to wait for him. We had just come from our farm and home on the other side of the sound, rural very rural. As I sat there marveling at the mass of humanity going by, a man stopped an asked if I needed help, I said no I am just waiting for my father who is in the saloon. He came back a few minutes later and gave me a candy bar, looked at me and shook his head. Maybe I felt a little like my drunken uncle, here it was past noon and I was in deep boundless bottomless sleep.
After a leisurely lunch we walk out across the street to Parc Luxembourg which is just across the street. We walk and talk, I marvel at everything. Paris is a city of shop keepers. Each small shop carries something that I love that I would very much like to own, to possess.
As we slowly stroll along we come to a window filled with estate jewelry, I am instantly hooked. Stepping back I look at the weathered sign over the door, sisohpromateM. The front of the little shop is painted black the lettering is in gold leaf. Inside I am assailed by a host of fascinating jeweled objects, none more jeweled and fascinating than the elderly elegant female owner.
As I hold a finely wrought silver ring with a carved cameo of an exquisite white frog I feel that old desire to own it. What is this desire that is so strong especially when traveling, to buy and own and take to my own little lair on Puget Sound, like a bower bird? To decorate my nest, so to speak.
I am reminded of a painting that I am familiar with by the Northwest mystic painter, Morris Graves, entitled "Each time I carry you this way" The image is of an imaginary bird holding a small silver-like herring in its beak cross-ways. Looking at this frog, grenouille in French, I thought about ownership, that each of us in our own way picks up this and that and carries this object sometimes for a whole life. At the end of this life of ours someone else, often our children, as often not, pick up the object we have carried so lovingly and then they carry it, on and on into the future. I am just going to say it I love to shop in foreign countries and especially for others. To see their joy at a gift gives me pleasure. When I buy, I buy what I love and would want to keep for myself. Sometimes a gift for others ends up being mine simply because I want to "carry" it for awhile. My wise old blacksmith grandfather use to say, before you buy it picture having it at home. This simple philosophy has been of good use to me. However sometimes as I am unpacking my purchases from a trip and look at what I purchased I think what possessed me to buy this?
Ownership, I was raised with the pioneer spirit. Go west, go someplace and conquer and own. Own more than your neighbors, own more than you need, but above all, own. Buy the house, buy the cars, buy it, all that you can afford and, at the end of the day, ownership probably won't make you happy, but it can make you look successful, if that is important. Henry David Thoreau noted: "The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it." I am an accumulator and so I buy. There is a price to pay for this encrustation, this accumulation, this acquisitiveness, that at both ends of purchasing is problematic, but done right is joy. We don't want to be a hoarde,r nor do we wish to live in bare rooms. In the greatest sense I buy to share. I tell my friends and acquaintances that I am like a bushman, When I am thirsty, I drink, when hungry, I eat, when sleepy I sleep. I live a simple life I say, this is a lie. I love and treasure most of my acquisitions, as I treasure the thrill and happiness of giving to those I most care for. In as much as I love to explore and purchase, there could be no place that I could be happier in than Paris.
Tokyo around the arc, I shouldn't forget two weeks from now, I will be in Tokyo. Hmm, sumi brushes, handmade papers for painting, golden shrines, gardens of antiquity and refinement, clothing and antiques, museums and galleries, what an oyster this world is.