Paris, March 2014
I’ve always been drawn to elderly people, as subjects and as human beings. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s a certain respect for all that they’ve lived through or maybe it’s the way I was raised. Aside from Milan, Paris has the classiest population of elderly people I’ve ever encountered. It has nothing to do with money, but rather an attitude- a certain grace and dignity that doesn’t diminish with age. It’s a drastically different mentality from that of the States, particularly in fast paced cities such as New York where past a certain age it’s virtually impossible to keep up with a generally dismissive and self serving population. How easily we forget what we have facing us just several steps down the road.
Cinema is a huge part of the social culture in France. Membership cards to various theaters are common, allowing unlimited access to films monthly. I had such a card myself, and I spent many nights alone in a darkened theatre taking in every type of movie from the hilarious to the obscene in order to improve my French. Needless to say I developed a new appreciation for American films (yep I said it).
I profited from this membership especially in the first several months, while I was a new expat with a less than bumping social agenda. Admittedly, I’d start off more than a few nights feeling bummed and wandering the city until ultimately settling into a movie theatre, haphazardly choosing whichever French film I hadn’t already hit up. The two hour ritual of sitting alone in a dark room and slumping into the velvet cushions as I’d let my overstimulated mind go numb was equally as important as the film itself. I miss these nights sometimes. The overpowering anonymity of being truly alone in a foreign country, facing a foreign culture, taking in spoken words in a language not quite my own, as lovely foreign images pass before me.