The Paris Broke Mommy Show

My husband Michael is leaving today. Last night I was crying on his shoulder saying,

"Don't leave me alone with these mean people!"

Don't leave me Sensei!

Don't leave me Sensei!

Now, that was after I was almost arrested in the Paris Metro, because I couldn't produce my used ticket. Or rather, I gave the ticket in my back pocket to the Metro Policeman, he said something I didn’t understand and pulled me aside, asking me to pay 35 Euros for not having a ticket. Our conversation about that went nowhere, so I asked for someone who spoke English. He waved over his immense partner. Huge man. Like, Green Mile size. I explained my story. I showed him the 20 tickets I just bought, gestured to my entire family who had tickets. Why would I sneak under the rail after buying 20 tickets? Where was the ticket I gave the first officer?

It didn’t matter. Defeated, I handed over my card. And while standing in front of Le Ligne Vert dude, him not looking me in the eye as he processed my credit card, I started to cry, treating my kids to the Paris Broke Mommy Show. 

I used to love this city. I've been to Paris 7 or 8 times, including when I was 20 and studied here during the second semester of my junior year. I have precious memories of every moment I've spent in this storied city, until I arrived here four days ago.

Which brings me to crying on my husband's shoulder in the vestibule of our apartment. J'en ai marre! I thought to myself, I've had enough of hostile Parisiens. Enough of trying to be kind to pursed faces. Enough of worrying about who's going to scream at my son as he attempts to skateboard down the sidewalk. Enough of regretting leaving Barcelona and coming here. After a teary rant, Michael poured me a glass of wine and we had a talk.

He told me to forget about taking them to places I think they should go.

"You are in paris in summer with the boys," he said. "It's exciting. Show them how to engage with it. Try to show them its good side."

Oh, Sensei Michael. I will miss him.

But he's right. I wish the boys hadn't seen me break down, but they can see me bounce back. Today I'm taking them to my old neighborhood and to Parc Monceau, a place where I hope they can be themselves, run around, maybe even use their skateboards without getting yelled at. I will find a way to show them how to enjoy Paris and let them be kids, even though this city doesn't want them to be.

And I will try to love Paris again.

 

 

Jennifer Raphael

Philadelphia