Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

13 January 2019

What The Gilets Jaunes Couldn't Interrupt

Yesterday, I went for a short ride--not much more than an hour--through side streets and alleys in and around the neighborhood in which I'm staying.  One reason is that I limited myself to riding in one direction--north and east of where I'm staying--because of police checkpoints and barricades in the other direction.  Also, I had a date with old friends in the afternoon.

I actually wondered, though, whether I would make it to our planned rendez-vous:  When I was about to cross the Place to get back to the hotel, a seemingly endless procession of police vehicles descended from the Boulevard de Clichy into the Plaza.  As the line of gendarmes' cars and mini-vans extended as far as I could see, I really wondered when I'd be able to cross.

But, of course, it did pass, and I was able to return to the hotel, where I stashed the bike and showered and changed clothes.  I'd thought about riding to my "date", but realized that I'd probably stay out late (on a Saturday night) and might run into a stream of drunks or gilets jaunes along the way.

Well, I did encounter the latter as Jay and I sipped juices in a cafe near the Centre Pompidou.  But it didn't take them as long to pass as the police procession took to get through the Place de Clicy, and--as I expected--they didn't care about Jay, me or anyone else nursing juice or tea or whatever in that cafe. They yelled their usual slogans, like "Demacronization 2019!" (Emanuel Macron is the President of France.), but on the whole, seemed no more menacing than any other large group of people.

Before that, Jay and I sauntered through one of the Centre Pompidou's galleries, where some Cubist works, and those of artists who influenced them, were on display.  I had seen a few of those works before, and several more in reproduction.  Some others, however, were not familiar to me, including this wood cutting from Paul Gauguin, long one of my favorite artists:




The work is titled "Soyez Mysterieuses," which translates as "Be Mysterious."  One thing I've always liked about him is that he could control a line or brush stroke in the way Bach could control a melody but still create an almost dreamy--mysterious--atmosphere.  That quality was evident in the woodcut, which I don't recall having seen before.

Anyway, after our Pompidou visit, drinks and our front-row view of the gilets jaunes, his wife Isabelle met us.  She teaches and in France, most kids go to school on Saturday mornings.  After her students were dismissed, she had to attend a meeting at the school.  


I knew Jay when he had all of his hair--and Isabelle when, well, she was Isabelle, only younger.


We hugged. I did not want to let go.  Nor did she.  And Jay would do nothing to discourage either of us.  I met him before he met her, and he surely knows that the love she and I have for each other is entirely intuitive--like the love I feel for Jay, as she surely knows.  Probably the only other couple with whom I have ever had this sort of relationship was the one I had with my friend Mildred (who is caring for Marlee while I"m gone) and her late husband, John.

The only other relationships--save for some members of my family--that have endured the trials and other changes I have endured are, perhaps, the ones I've had with my cats (including Marlee) and with reading, writing and Paris.  And France--and cycling.

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