The Fog Lifts

There is nothing like being sick for making you want to go running home and cry for your mommy. We knew it would happen—the stress of the move and living in a new city, the winter gloom here, and of course, being exposed to lots of new and wonderful germs. Just like back home, flu season has hit Paris hard, and the streets and metros are filled with people coughing and sneezing. Chuck came home a couple of weeks ago to report that everyone in his office was sick, and a few days later, guess who was holed up in bed with a terrible fever that just wouldn’t quit. Piper was the next to fall, and was home from school for three full days. (As, apparently, were a significant number of her classmates—so many that they had to delay the class picture taking to this week because so many kids were out.) I made it through nursing both of them through the worst of their illnesses, only to come down with it myself last weekend. As someone who barely ever gets sick, and rarely for more than a few days, I was not amused. And suddenly this glorious city started to feel really, really far from home. 

The thing about living here is that not only are we still figuring out the essentials (the apartment, the library, the supermarket, Indian takeout), but we’re doing it in French. Many, many people here do speak English, but I am doing my darnedest to really work on my French, so I’m trying not to rely on “Parlez-vous anglais?”. Hence spending 15 minutes trying to research cough medication, unsuccessfully, using Google Translate. But in the end, I dragged my sad little body into the pharmacie across the street and explained in my extremely hoarse voice that I needed something for tousser (coughing), and was given three “medicaments" from one of the young women there who then very sweetly wrote how many times a day I was supposed to take them on the boxes. The cough medicine is a powder that you dissolve into water, and I also got some throat lozenges and something else for the throat that appears to be a pill of some kind. But as my throat felt better with the lozenges, and the pills are still a mystery to me even with Google Translate, I am staying away from those. I’m not sure if the cough medicine is working or not, but I am feeling better, so I’ll stick with it for now. (Where is the Robitussin DM when you need it?) I’m not sure why this has surprised me so much, but it really has—there is just so little in the supermarkets, the drug stores, the papeteries (which are where they sell magazines and pen/paper supplies) that is recognizable. I guess it is my typical American belief that the rest of the world revolves around our products, and while I wouldn’t have admitted I felt like that before moving here, I’m realizing that some of that must just be ingrained in living in the same country your whole life. It does rock your world a little to realize that products that seem essential to you (foods, medicines) are obviously not, in fact, essential, because you can’t even find them in other countries! 

It’s all part of the learning curve here, and now at least I can check off “find an English-speaker doctor” off our list of things to figure out. And, possibly, the apartment. Because in the midst of the illness from hell, we moved. We had arranged our first apartment via AirBnB back in the States, sight unseen, so we always knew there was a good chance we would need to move. And sure enough, though that apartment was lovely and so very Parisian, we didn’t love the location, especially in relation to the girls’ school and the park (critical when you live in an apartment!). We thought we had found a long-term rental but at the last minute, it fell through, and we were left scrambling to find another apartment for another month’s rental. So with a feverish husband and daughter, I packed up the apartment, and somehow got us moved into our new one. It’s wonderful—small, but with an amazing balcony that overlooks some of the beautiful Haussman buildings and has an Eiffel Tower view. 

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Just beautiful, and I can already see myself sitting on the balcony with a cup of coffee in the morning or wine in the evening, and watching the world go by. Perhaps slightly less universally impressive, I opened one of the kitchen cabinets and found a Le Crueset stock pot. YES. After the poorly stocked kitchen of the old apartment, and in the midst of a major bout of homesickness, I knew exactly what I had to cook. Roasted Chicken in Pot. This is a staple in our house, and there is nothing more comforting. I was so excited, I didn’t even take a picture of the lovely roast chicken in the pot, but here it is served up on a plate with some roasted potatoes on the side. There are whole cloves of garlic in there which get all luscious and melty while it cooks—shmear those on a piece of baguette and call it heaven. 

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e© Molly Pisula 2015