I am in Paris, attending The French Open, drinking champagne, strolling St. Germaine, watching the drop dead women go by, recalling my fractured knowledge of the language, reveling in my instinct for the romantic way of life. The joi de vive.
I first came to live here, all alone, at age 19, with $312 and a rebel’s devil’s may care attitude about everything and everyone. I arrived as a pauper but with a New Yorker’s savior fare and in short order I moved from my squalid digs to the apartment of the twenty-year old Parisian siren with whom I fell in love and then quickly out of as she moved to Algeria for a year with her ambassador father. Gone she was with the wind, but I was left (by her request and my instant agreement) with her stately residence nicely settled above Place de Victor Hugo.
Still with only pocket change to spend each day, I lived the life of a young sultan, swimming at Piscine Deligny, drinking simple cheap wine at the local tabacs, dancing away the evenings at the clubs that brought me gift-wrapped girlfriends from every country on the globe. It was Hemingway who said that if you are fortunate enough to live in Paris as a young person, it will stay with you for life, as Paris is a moveable feast.
In the decades since I called Paris my home, I have visted often, always blissfully myopic about its hypocritcal socialism and its preposterous pretense to be independent from my only true home, the U.S. Of A. I want it this way for a week: the luxury of simply indulging in the city of lights while the world burns and Obama stokes the flames. But I don’t forget, nor do I want to, that my circumstances here are now so different on the success and wealth meters, because the nation of my birth, the land of stars and stripes, the freedom fighter that saved the French from their own weakness, gave me the opportunity to come from a broken family, from near poverty, from a total lack of guidance and support, to build businesses, raise amazing children and be blessed with the love of a truly wonderful woman.
On both ends of the financial spectrum, one can and should enjoy God’s gift of life. And I have savored Paris with pockets empty and full, in equal measure, at different times in my life.
On each, however, I have known that while this may be the city of lights, America is the light of the world.
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