“But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there, not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong, nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight.”
– Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
Paris Stories Part 2
In 1990 Cradoc and I sold our possessions and moved to Europe. We had a dream, but no plan. We figured we’d travel around to decide where we wanted to live. Cradoc, a professional photographer, would get assignments, and I’d jumpstart my career as a travel writer.
We used Paris as a home base, leaving most of our belongings stored with friends. Off we went into a bitterly cold winter. We kept heading further south and wound up in Estepona, Spain to wait out the Gulf War. The war lasted longer than our money, so we went back to the US to start a software business that would let us live anywhere in the world.
In 2001 Cradoc and I spent a summer back in Paris where we studied B&W printing with Georges Fèvre, one of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s printers. We walked the streets all day with our Leica’s and Tri-X B&W film taking in every bit of beauty. In the evening we took the film to the lab, and every morning we picked it up. Those first weeks in Paris were a photographer’s dream.
But then the weather started to heat up. A lot. Getting any sleep in our friend’s tiny apartment was impossible. All the neighbor’s windows were wide open. Including the young girl who played Mariah Carey records day and night, the man who loved karaoke but had the misfortune of being tone deaf, another neighbor learning to play the violin without much success, the African couple’s newborn baby who cried non-stop until a healing ceremony with rattles and chanting stopped the crying, the RER metro speeding by blowing up dust and discontent.
We flew back to New York early, at the beginning of September, where we waited out a hurricane forecast to hit Florida, the place we were headed to for the winter. We drove around upstate New York unaware that a different kind of storm was brewing. A storm that would hit on Sept 11th, a storm that would change everything. And nothing would ever be simple again.