Aw, mama, can this really be the end?

Well, let's see...

Back in Paris I created a long, thoughtful update for all of you, rife with stories and experiences, but the stupid computer crashed. In France they don't believe in Auto-Save in Word, and it was one of my best works yet. So it goes. So I'll slap together a little something for all of you, perhaps the last one, as I will be back stateside in a few short days.

First Casualty:
I lost my skateboard yesterday.

It was some ungodly hour of the morning and I was scrambling to get to the D-Day memorial museum before my scheduled slot passed. I had misread my book and missed the train that could have got me there. I called a cab and in the rush to get things ironed out with him, I got in and left my board on the curb. When I got back in the evening, no one knew nothing about it. I hope the rat bastard that walked away with it loses control in front of a busy intersection. A real way to piss on my day. And as a result of having to come back to look for my board, I got stuck in Bayeux France a second, reluctant day.

But that board did me well over the past several years. And I put some real miles on it during this trip.

But more positive things have hapened to me.


An American Skateboarder in Paris:
Ding ding ding. We have a winner. Hands down my favorite big city. There was this moment as I got off the metro where I just knew that I would fit in there. I began in the Bastille area and looked up to see wheels. Inline skates, rollerskates, bikes, skateboards, Razor Scooters, motor scooters and cars. In that order of quantity. Indeed, Paris is a city on wheels and I just got on my skateboard (see, I had one at one time) and slid right in.

I was asked no less than 20 times for directions over my first 2 days in Paris. "Je ne sais pas! Je suis Americain, mais J'ai un plan!" So I'd whip out my map and set the locals on their way.

The Arc De Triumphe towers over the biggest roundabout around: 12 intersections intersect here, including the 10-lane Champs de Elysees, and there are no apparent rules of order: One stops, merges, honks, turns, changes lanes, as one pleases. And somehow all of this occurs with no accidents that I saw, and keeping the traffic moving better than downtown Issaquah at midnight. Someone ought to tell those fools in minivans stuck indefinitely in the roundabout in front of Sunset Elementary to go to Paris and take a lesson.

It was another one of those random European holidays and the city was hopping. There was a huge rally full of colege kids demonstrating next to a sizeable church. The combination of laxed drug and drinking in public laws, no Bob Barker to urge people to spay and neuter their pets, and the general pulse of this city that led to some interesting moments.

So I saw people inebriate, desecrate, demonstrate, love their mate, try not to hate... you know what I mean.

But that was just the start. The reason I love Paris is because it is truly alive. I don't know about Chicago and I ain't never been to New Orleans, but in Paris there really is dancing in the streets. In no other city that I know of, can a horn and drum band set up under a 1000-foot tower at midnight and draw a crowd of hundreds.

And I skated on and heard Santana music being played live. Not from a bar, but on the shore of the Seine river which runs through the city. And I joined hundreds of people dancing and drinking and laughing. In the middle of a city at 1 in the morning. On a weeknight.

That night several hundred bicycles suddenly appeared in the streets, quickly disturbed traffic and kept moving on. I kept pace on my board for a while, but was unable to understand why there were so many bikes together at one in the middle of the night. It was just Paris.

And as I made my way home that night, I realized that everywhere I looked, people were doing things. Picknicking on the river, huddled in groups talking, hanging out in the plazas and street corners, hanging out at cafes.... all night long. Any night of the week (when the weather is right). Not this go to a club, go to an afterhours party, drink and drive routine that American 20-somethings seem to think is characteristic of a city that is alive. Paris is different.

So I left my heart in Paris, I think. I had to keep moving. So much more to see, but I will return.

I have numerous other stories, but only so much patience at this Macintosh in a Belgian internet cafe.

Last one:
I finally had a true money crisis. There was a 24-hour period where my checking account was empty, the B of A computers were down so I couldn't transfer from Savings, mom and dad were unreachable on vacation, I didn't have enough money to send more than tersely worded frantic emails, my Visa was shut down due to fraudulent use, no one likes American Express (how are they even in business?) and 20 Francs ($3.50) in my pocket.

I chuckled, ate bread and water, used my prepaid museum pass. A little adrenaline, but I knew I'd survive.

Belgian waffles are so much better made the Belgian way.

Well, tomorrow sometime I head for Amsterdamn. Our flaming Mormon friend Nathan once said that Amsterdam is Gomorrah. Being a Jew and not being too keen on my Bible stories, I don't know literally what that means. But I will do my best to find out first hand what that kid was talking about.

And after all that, if things go better than my transportation connections have the past few days, I will find myself back in the good old US of A in 5 short days.

I've viewed my homecoming with equal parts trepidation and excitement for some time now.
The other night I had a dream:
I was driving down I-90 bridge and pulled up to a stop right in the middle of traffic. And there, also stopping traffic, was Jack in his car. We each got out and were holding big metal antennae and tripods; huge pieces of metal splaying out in all directions. As we approached each other, we grinned, satisfied in the knowledge that everyone in Seattle was wondering what the hell we were doing.

And I think that is my subconcious telling me that I am indeed looking forward to being back with my friends and getting back into the kinds of antics that only we can do.

This time, with a few new ideas for what, and some insight into where they ought to take place in the future.

So if I don't get inspired at an Amsterdamn internet cafe, I will talk to you all once I am back in the land of the free? brave?