Cafe, Work / Life

Space and Place

I’m ready to go home. I’ve seen it, done it, ate it, tried it. Well, not quite everything. But I’ve hit a threshold – be that sickness for home, or the onset of the ordinary.

Le thé mélange du loir at Le Loir dans la Théière.

Le thé mélange du loir at Le Loir dans la Théière.

Perhaps its the combination of a cold, a poor night’s sleep, the persistent chilly weather, the advent of the third leg of our journey with a new set of guests and new set of rules, but all I can think is of home and the known. My body drags through the street, as Ben deciphers the pharmacie to find a decongestant, then whisks me away to my favorite spot, Le Loir dans la Théière, for tea, chocolat chaud, and a pastry (or two). My spirits are lifting, but when we arrive home to dive into our work day, the internet is down and then the nearby café’s wifi is inaccessible. My worst dreads officially came true. The magic of Paris has dissipated – I just want to be home.

I share this for posterity–as grand as our trip has been and will be, there are inescapable dull and dreary moments. And there will be things we’ll want to change and improve for the next time. I think though, we’re just in the lull. Our trip to Paris is long enough that it’s not a vacation, but short enough that we can’t establish permanence. There’s a tug-o-war to keep up with the urgency to see and try things because the opportunity is limited, to turn our attention to work, and to pause to rest.

Glorious sunset walk home on the Rue Saint-Martin.

Glorious sunset walk home on the Rue Saint-Martin.

Most of all, I’ve realized the deepened importance of space and place. Over the last couple of years, I’ve learned to protect my weekends, and certain hours and places at home from the everyday-ness. While work and life co-exist, it depends on calibrated shifts: from email, to meetings, to events, to cooking, to reading and creating. Each of these activities have an accompanying space – whether that’s time, physical or both.

During this month-long trip, Paris could no longer just be a place to escape. The duration, by design, allows and necessitates, that we spend some of our time with email, work, meetings; bringing our laptops to the cafés, or staying at the apartment to make a call back to the office. It requires more sophistication to navigate, just like back home. Space and place lose their physical bearings and become time & activity associations. In the morning, we write at the café and work on this blog, then explore the city through the early afternoon. Then it’s back to the apartment to work for a few hours, popping out for a bite to eat, then back to wrap up. We end the night at the café over wine, café crèmes and cigarettes, unwinding from the day and plotting the next.

No longer is it iPhone vs. Café, but it’s them intermingling, co-exsiting, shifting from work to leisure with a hopeful grace.


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