mardi, novembre 15, 2005

The Night Movers

It started on the eleventh, Dear Wife's birthday, when each of us took out a small valise, tossed in some overnight supplies, and made the 12 minute walk to the Bonapartment. That little trek signaled the commencement of our latest relocation. What started as a one-night stop-gap became our new moving method. Every night since, you could see us trudging up the boulevard St. Germain, now hauling big suitcases, loads of shopping bags, and even once, Dear Wife's foam roller ("everything must go"). We've decided the relocation of a thousand small moves is preferrable to the all-at-once one-day big-daddy gawd-awmighty kneee-shaker type. So when everyone in the building is asleep, we load up and clamber down the stairs of the St. Sulpice place with as much as we can safely carry.

Crossing the neighborhood to reach our new place is almost meditative, like a silent procession, with the boulevard and sidestreets cooperatively still. Only taxis pass us, and so far we've resisted the urge to hail one. And haughty Frenchmen that they are, none has even deigned to slow down and ask if we need a ride. Two people in the middle of the night dragging large suitcases. "They know what they're doing," they must say to themselves:"Either they've already got a ride, or they're idiots." And they drive past.

The streets have been (mercifully) free of pedestrians every time we've ventured out so encumbered. There would be little more embarassing than bumping into proper Parisians looking not so much like wayward tourists as the budding homeless.

Maybe that's why the taxis don't stop?

We walk up the south side of the boulevard, where the pavement is wider and there are no cafés hosting late-night crowds or narrowing our path with their outdoor tables. We cross at the curch St. Germain-des-Prés, at the big intersection where rue De Rennes splits off from rue Bonaparte. Civilian vehicles are remarkably absent, and taxis provide the only traffic. There's a weird preference among a lot of Parisian taxi drivers to leave their main headlights off at night, and they drive only with their parking lights illuminated. It strikes me as incredibly cheap, as if they're worried about wearing out their halogens (and indeed, it's always a newish car that seems to be doing this--and there are lots of new looking taxis here--the entire taxi fleet of Paris is notably fancy, with lots of Benzes and luxury Peugeots earning their keep as hacks, polished and sleek but crowned by a discreet eminence that just mentions, in whispering, glowing letters, the word "TAXI").( Everytime Dear Wife and I would make this commute, I would study the taxis and see if there was any connection between headlight activation and whether they were or were not carrying a fare: couldn't see any.)

As we walk, we are steeling ourselves for this last part of the trip: the climb up to the new apartment. We are on the fifth floor, which here means five flights of stairs because they count the ground floor as Zero. And the staircase here is interestingly unrelenting, without any landings until you reach our floor, the top floor: all the other doors on the way up make due with a triple-wide step for their porch. The steps resume without time to catch your breath.

By spreading the loads out over a half-week, we've avoided any suicidally dangerous missions, the ones carrying my biggest suitcase packed as full as possible, and me harumphing it up, one step at a time, always ready to totter backwards into the void, or just plain collapse. No, this time was different. We moved sensibly. And even though it was hard getting the bags up, it was within the realm of the humanly possible. A big improvement over last time.

And today we brought our last load. The computer stuff, primarily. Now that we've vacated the St. Sulpice apartment, we are without Internet. But we do have all of our equipement.

We called a taxi for this stuff. There's no way I could carry that printer between apartments and not have been in a bad mood for some time--and we have company coming tommorrow, Kindly Kev, our first visitor. I want to be in top spirits.

It's all up here, now (in the new apartment, the "Bonapartment"), and thank Jesus.

It's 96 steps from bottom to top. Which brings to mind the old song, "96 Tears."

And now that I've had a good cry, it almost seems funny.