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Monday, March 28, 2011

My Hemingway Years (4)

Exploring Paris

Walking the streets of Paris, France, some of the same streets Hemingway had walked, was exciting and humbling. I had never seen anything like it before--the overwhelming presence of the past. It was as if the past were alive. The narrow streets banked by brick walls of buildings built hundreds of years before, the huge cathedrals, the sense of being in another world, were always present. The outdoor cafes, the bistros, the restaurants, the smell of baking bread, was nothing like I, a boy from Jacksonville, Florida, had ever experienced.

Here, in Paris, was the habitue of some of the greatest artists, scientists, theologians, philosophers, writers, and poets of all time, many of whom had walked some of these same streets that I was walking. They were all around me: Hemingway, Zola, Voltaire, Picasso, Modigilani, Sartre, Camus, and many others. Their presence soaked into me. I became a part of them, or they became a part of me. As the days went by and I began to know my way around the Latin Quarter, St-Germain-des-Pres, and Invalides, it was no longer Hemingway's Paris. It had become my Paris, my home, my habitue--a place I never wanted to leave.
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