21.2.07

Abroad

Looking at my passport, I notice something: These days, when I travel, it's almost always out of the country.

North America doesn't do that much for me. I don't care for what was once quaintly called "motoring" -- motorcars, motorcycles, motor homes, motor inns. Which is pretty much what travel around a big continent requires. I like older & more walkable places, cities where people come together, manage to live together in closer quarters than otherwise.

This preference poses certain problems when traveling with a child. It's not like we can just buckle her into her car seat and drive off. Jane and I spent some time in Paris learning about how to walk. There's lots to learn: how to use a map, how to move in crowds, how to walk at night. Through it all a larger lesson: how to be with other people. Learning to walk in cities is a way to learn about how to participate in civic life, how to recognize and inhabit shared space.

Tonight at the grocery store: "What's the most important thing to do when you travel, Jane?"

"Smile."

Travel Writing - Mothers & Children

I'm trying to find examples of travel writing that include parents and children. Know of anything? Email me -- ping DOT diane AT gmail DOT com

Thank you!

Jane's Dinner Party Conversation

In Paris, I had the pleasure of sitting next to Jane at an intimate dinner party in the Marais where she held forth on her two favorite subjects: gun control (she is all for it) and pollution (against). She's got lots of ideas, and she's not afraid to share them. It is astonishing to hear someone so small talk about matters so large. But somehow, she does it. Pulls it off rather gracefully, in fact.

I felt quite shallow, sitting there with my glass of champagne, admiring the view...

Travels with Jane - Other People & Their Children

This year, we're going to lots of interesting places: Paris, Tokyo, Beijing, and wherever else we're lucky enough to visit.

Jane is old enough that travel is no longer a misery of portage - diapers potty toys games stroller snugli diaper bag twenty changes of clothes etc. All that's over with - she walks, she talks, she (mostly) sleeps, she uses the bathroom. In fact, she carries things herself - she will bring me my glasses, the telephone, a cold drink while I sit in my silk wrapper, perusing the room service menu & watching my nails grow.

Traveling with a child, I am acutely aware of other people's children. On the flight from Paris, a little girl who cried inconsolably on take-off and landing received several whacks on the bottom from her mother, who seemed unaware that the change in pressure might be hurting her little one's ears. Not surprisingly, the whacks did not stop the crying; eventually the kid fell asleep. I felt lucky that Jane is such a good traveler - she slept at least five or six hours on each flight we took. But we gave her a teaspoon of decongestant before the plane took off, to help with her ears (she's getting over an infection). This probably also helped with her sleeping. I remember the pain of plugged airplane ears from my childhood. Even a little, tiny, residual cold can make flying a misery.

I thought about offering a teaspoon of decongestant, or a little water in a cup. But I didn't want to intrude. I felt like doing so would overstep a line. I don't like the violence of what she did. But she wasn't freaking out, wasn't incapacitated with anger - she just seemed like an easily annoyed person with few resources for dealing with crying children.

Her husband could not have been less helpful, either. He just sat there and occasionally barked warnings at the little girl.

Mademoiselle Wants You To Know...

...that she is not asleep, and her shoes are not on the sofa, as she parties all night at the Hôtel Crillon.



More news from Paris coming soon.

2.2.07

What He Said

"A book, then, that crumbles even while it forms."
-- Edmond Jabés, from Desire for a Beginning Dread of One Single End

What She Said

"A baby, a body, a book, abode."
-- Anne Waldman, from the poem My Life A Book