The Lost Letter (and a quiet little Black Friday event)
The LOST letter, not the LAST letter. The Paris Letters project began a café in Paris. But I suppose it started much earlier than that, around the time my friend Áine (Pronounced aahn-ya, rhymes with lasagna.) moved to… Chile? Japan? Ireland? Or maybe when I moved to Los Angeles? Somewhere in there we started writing letters back and forth. Great missives about—I’d like to say our travels, but no—our love lives. What he said. What she said. It was all very juicy stuff for the young ladies that we were.
Facebook reminded me today that Áine took this photo 12 years ago when she was visiting me in California. The Secret was all the rage and I was performing one of those Power of Attraction acts… pretending to kiss my future husband. Ugh! What actually happened was that I was kissed by a tick on my backside and later had a round of antibiotics to deal with the Lyme Disease welts. True story.
In searching for this photo, I came across The Áine Scowl:
Slightly amused. Slightly not.
I saw Paris for the first time with Áine.
And this is the moment I saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time… not knowing that I was 2 km and 2 years away from the lovely Christophe. He was so close!
When I finally did show up there 2 years later (and 20 steps from Christophe!!!) I sat down at a café and started writing a letter to Áine. These letters morphed into the Paris Letters project. Even now, many years later and over 200 letters down the road, each letter is addressed to her first. Except for one.
This is the letter written in March 2014 featuring Café Papillon. This letter was written to a lady named Patricia. She subscribed to everything I had… and she subscribed well in advance. That means that when I wasn’t sure if I had more than 12 letters in me, she had already subscribed to the next 36 so I’d better think of something. She definitely, quietly, pushed me along in this project. I never met her. Never talked to her. But there she was quietly supporting the craft with her enthusiastic purchases. There was a moment in time when I had a series of love letters, which were about great love stories set in Paris. I had but one subscriber left: Patricia. On the day I wrote the letter, I was sitting in a café (Quelle surprise) and thought I should take it home and make a copy. But I was on the other side of town, my feet hurt, and the post office was nearby. Plus, I never thought I’d need it for the anthology I’m currently creating. I folded the original, stamped it, and popped it in the post. I often wondered about that letter. I had long forgotten what I had written. Hoped it made sense.
Years later I received a email from her husband, letting me know that she had passed away. He had found all the letters tucked in a drawer, including this particular letter. He told me that they were once in Paris on vacation and he encouraged her to look me up, but she was too intimidated to contact a real author. (Hey I put my Burberry pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else).
Just kidding. I don’t wear pants.
Thankfully her daughter Bernadette was able to send this humble author a copy of the lost letter many years later. Now I continue to send letters to Bernadette, but I write them for Patricia whose ghost, I hope, is peering over Bernadette’s shoulder to read the latest missive.
Here’s the letter:
March 2014, Paris
I think we are in the clear. The winter in Paris has been mild, which means the expat community has been avoiding discussions about the weather with their shivering compadres in North America. Poor North America has had a rough go of snow this year. Last year at this time, I was stuck at an airport in Warsaw due to a blizzard in Paris. And now trees are in bloom. The patio chairs have also been dusted off. Usually just the smokers puff and shiver outside. But now, long bright afternoons mean bustling terraces galore. There is a dark side to all these balmy spring days. The pollution levels are so out of control that the transit system was free this weekend to encourage motorists to hop on the Métro instead. I took a few free rides, but have spent more time on urban hikes. It’s easy to do when one isn’t weighed down by winter gear. The spring rain shows up, too, and I’m fine with that. Helps the flowers bloom. This great weather is almost too good to be true. I keep thinking the temperature will drop suddenly, so I haven’t put my winter scarves away just yet… though I’ve dusted off my sunglasses.
“About as simple as it gets.” Anthony Bourdain, sitting at Café Le Papillon in Paris
In other news, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about the Black Friday business happening over in my shop.
The email are so loud today, non? ALL CAPS highlighting BLACK FRIDAY. It’s all a bit much. I find myself sorting through my emails just to look for something not so aggressive. That said… with this sale, the final big sale of the year, you save about $44USD on the 12 month subscription (20% off, plus free shipping) until Wednesday, December 4. It’s a big sale, but there is only one year left of the Paris Letters project, so I’m hoping you’ll join me as we wrap up Paris. Speaking of wrapping… the letter subscription and note cards make nice pressies for your Paris loving pals. Find out more in the shop.