Thursday, July 31, 2014

From Paris to Lodi

On Sunday July 27, I watched the final stage of the Tour de France. The race’s arrival in Paris, where they ride eight laps up and down the Champs-Elysées, around the Arch of Triumph, across the Place de la Concorde, down the Rue de Rivoli, by the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens. Fabulous!

It’s a scientific fact: Paris is the world’s most beautiful city. When I lived there, my high school teacher Madame Louvain said so. At that time, I thought, “Oh sure, that’s what teachers tell their students in Omaha, in Shanghai and in  Saint Louis also. But now I realize that Madame Louvain was right. The matter  is not debatable.

My life’s trajectory has been as follows: From Paris, I moved to Amsterdam, then on to Minneapolis, and finally to Sacramento. A straight-line descent, no doubt about it. Will my next stop be Lodi - the town immortalized by Creedence Clearwater Revival?

I was fourteen  when my family and I  left the City of Lights. It was my parents’ decision to move. I cried. I spent my next ten years in Amsterdam, which is nothing to sneeze at either. It’s a fine, groovy town. Amsterdam really swings, but it ain’t  Paris.

Then, I moved on to Minneapolis. America was my Mecca, as it was for dozens of millions of others. I still don’t regret this move, but some might question it. That’s understandable. At least I could have moved to New York or San Francisco, right?

The next move was even worse: to Sacramento. The simple reason: a dynamite university position with all the bells and whistles. My income quadrupled and I soon  had tenure. And don’t forget the allure of Golden California in the late sixties: far ahead of the rest of the world;  palm trees, orange trees,  and swimming pools in every backyard.

People don’t move to a different city, state or country because it has the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower or quaint canals or  a Rembrandt museum. People move because of JOBS, geography, housing, a college scholarship, family, personal circumstances.

You should read this self-revelatory article with a sense of humor: I have been very  happy in California for over forty years. There are probably more unhappy people in Paris than in Sacramento.

But when I watch the finish of the Tour de France on the Champs-Elysées, I get think that I could still be living in the City of Lights where I grew up! As Josephine Baker sang: “J’ai deux amours, mon pays et Paris” (I have two loves, my country and Paris). leave comment here

© Tom Kando 2014