Memories of Paris come to me like a slideshow through one of those goofy View-Masters.
There’s the Pyramid at the Louvre. Click. The Eiffel. Click. The Mona Lisa. Click. Shakespeare and Company. Click. So on. Click. So on.
But unlike a View-Master, my memories are not sequential and neither do they always come at the same tempo. Sometimes, the pictures of Paris flood my mind like perfect sixteenth-note staccatos – the View-Master wheel whizzing by. Other times, it is a ballad – slow, reflective, always beautiful. I take a moment to gaze before I move on to the next. Still, other times, a memory flows out in a long drawn-out whole note – long enough that it’s almost real, like the photo has come alive.
The latter, happens more often when Tom is away on tour.
It is 2 o’clock on a Thursday afternoon when Tom brings his suitcases out to the car. I start to cry. It’s been a long time since I’ve shed a few tears during one of Tom’s departures. His touring has become a way of life and, after so many years, we’ve somehow established some normalcy in a situation that is, in so many ways, abnormal.
Still, because Tom has been home for some time now and because he’s been talking about coming off the road, I’ve been set up for the fall.
“No,” I blubber. “I don’t like this.”
“Stop crying,” Tom says pulling me in for a hug. He kisses my forehead.
“Why do you have to go?” I don’t know why I even ask. We both know.
Tom had hoped that he didn’t have to go but the application processes for his other endeavors are taking longer than expected. So when Brian Wilson made him an offer to come work on a world tour celebrating The Beach Boys’ 50th anniversary, Tom decided to take it.
Secretly, even with all my mixed emotions about traveling or the potential lack thereof when Tom finally finds another job, I pray to God that this is his last tour. The not knowing of what will be next is wearing both of us out.
So Tom is away for five weeks before I get to see him in June for a short stint. Then he’s back out on the tour. Meanwhile, I’m working out harder and eating less. I’m throwing myself into my job and volunteer work. The house is clean and will (at least) stay clean.
And then there are moments like tonight, when the house is quiet and the cats are curled up asleep on the bed, that I’m not in California. At least, mentally I’m not here. I’m in Paris. I’m in Paris with Tom.
We are on the second floor of Shakespeare and Company, sitting in a small room that is appropriately lined – top to bottom – with packed bookshelves. There’s also an upright piano and a young lady is skillfully playing it. A young man with thick brown curly hair is sitting in an armchair just to the right. Tom and I sit together on a bench near a window. The young woman starts a familiar tune and we start singing – all four of us.
For though they may be parted
There is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be
I’m lingering in this whole-note of a memory.