Early Monday evening I left the Musée du Louvre and made my way to the Metro to meet Michelle for dinner. I was certain of the direction back to the station and decided I could therefore vary the route a bit. As I walked along, I saw people sitting on a bank below the walkway, and a paved ramp leading down to where they were. The lure of the river, the Seine, was impossible to resist and I took the ramp, found a spot on a platform above the walkway, and sat a while watching the Parisians, the tour boats on the river, the ducks, and the age-old buildings surrounding it all.
Whenever I find myself in a distant and unanticipated place I think of my mother. She never left the United States, spent most of her adult life trying to wrangle Toledo into something more kind to her. I think of her and feel sad because she died a month after her 49th birthday and there was so much she never got a chance to see. When I mentioned this to Michelle as I stood underneath the Arc de Triomphe the day before, she told me (and I have heard many times) that I take my mother with me and, in that way, she gets to see what I see. I believe this and I don't. Perhaps something I need to reconcile.
Though I wrestle with what my mother's life was, I deeply appreciate how my life's fortune points my feet in directions I don't expect to walk. Sitting beside the Seine on a beautiful day in March filled me with a sense of excitement, a friendly expectancy about the days to come. And maybe a little, just a little, I felt my mother smiling for us both.