Our next day dawned… well, still cold and gloomy, but with just a touch of I don’t know what. Lisa was feeling a little peaky, and was ready for a quiet day in. She suggested, however, that John (ok, this post is pretty much all me, so I’m going to drop the pronoun games, kk?) go to the Musée d’Orsay, which is a) my absolute favorite place, maybe on the planet and this is not an exaggeration, and b) not her favorite, though she likes it fine. She’s been a couple of times now and wasn’t going to be pained by skipping it once. I pretended to be put out by the suggestion for a few minutes before scampering out of the flat with Road Runner spinny legs and a cloud of dust, pausing only to throw on my coat and tug on my gloves against the chill. (That’s some foreshadowing, y’all.) I head to the taxi stand about 200 meters from where we were staying; seriously this may be my favorite short-term accommodation ever, factoring in all the amenities. I hop in, make a little small talk with the driver, pull off my gloves, and even take a couple of photos out the window as we drove through the Louvre, passing a view of the Eiffel Tower, to get to Musée d’Orsay. (MOAR FORESHADOWING.) He drops me off across the street, and I go to the completely empty queue to get in to the museum. Entering the foyer, I pull off my backpack to go through the metal detector… and suddenly realize that I’m not wearing my wedding ring.
This, of course, sets me off in a panic. I frantically pat myself down, look around, check pockets etc… but I’m starting to hold up the line. The security guard, not unkindly, says something in French that I parse out as a mixture of “move it along” and “is something the matter?” I hold up my left hand and point emphatically at my ring finger; her eyebrows raise as she immediately gets it. (Charades, the international language.) So I scoot through the metal detector and immediately head out the exit. I make my way to the front entrance doors again and begin to methodically retrace my steps. There is no crowd to navigate, which is good.
Two things kept me from being optimistic, however. First, note the color of the pavement. Now, learn that I have… sigh had… a white gold wedding band. It was a half-hour or so of mounting frustration. And second, I was already 99% certain my ring came off in the taxi when I took my gloves off. See, I’ve lost a modest amount of weight relative to our wedding day; not shockingly transformative or anything, but enough that my ring has had a little play in it. So, while it would be highly unlikely that it just magically slid off my finger while walking and without me noticing, it was all too easy to imagine it being pulled off with my fairly snug gloves, and I might not have felt anything else what with the glove coming off. After confirming that my taxi was long gone, I leaned against the low stone wall overlooking the Seine and called Lisa.
So, skipping intensely personal conversations, she was fine. I was more upset than she was. Not that she wasn’t bummed, but my wife is a compassionate and reasonable person and understood that sometimes the universe decides that what you need is a kick between the legs. In fact, I was going to come home but she told me I was already there and since there was nothing to be done I should still go and enjoy the museum. Wow. But you know, when you think clearly about it (which she is amazing at doing) she was right; what’s done is done, and Paris still lies before us. In I went.
Why do I say that Musée d’Orsay may be my absolute favorite place? It’s a lot of things. For starters, I have discovered in the (hopefully) middle of my life that I just plain love a museum; no idea where it came from, I didn’t study art, ever. I didn’t get taken to these kinds of things as a kid, at least not more than every other kid. Anyway, at some point I realized that I love reading the little cards, and listening to a guide if there is one, and just absorbing the visual arts. Before this gets too pretentious, I want to be clear that I don’t think I have any particular insights, and I don’t think I’m somehow more in tune with museums than you or anybody else. All I know is I that I absolutely love it. So, that’s museums. As far as Orsay goes, I think the building is absolutely gorgeous. I also love how compact it is; it’s like a beehive of art treasure, and you can wend your way through it in such way that there’s nary a step wasted getting you to the next little room or cove. And then, to top it all off (literally; hang on) it turns out I’m a sucker for the 19th and early 20th centuries. I’m pretty sure that’s considered entry level taste in art to the real connoisseurs, but I think I’ve made it clear by now that I’m not an expert, just a passionate amateur. Anyway, Orsay is specifically geared for that period (and later into the 20th as well) so it’s just catnip. The top floor is the Impressionists exhibit (see, you hung on!) and it’s just… I really don’t have words. Some day I really am going to give myself a day to just go up there and start staring. The museum cafe is on that floor as well, just past the room, so I can break for lunch before going back in. And, again the building is just gorgeous. If God had never gotten into the cathedral business, it’s what a cathedral would be thought to look like. Musee du Louvre is bigger, and many places are grand (the National Gallery in London, the Ufizi, etc..) I suspect I’ll post a photo dump somewhere here, it’s tough to just show one picture and say “see? isn’t this great??”
I scooted back to our flat, and we went out for a lovely meal. I honestly don’t remember which one, but they almost all were. Make sure you’re seeing the restaurant reviews that Lisa has been posting over at facebook.