A Proposal to Wander

Dear T,

I hope you are the right person to contact about this.  If not, please forgive my intrusion.

Shakespeare & Co is a storied establishment (no pun intended) so I assume you’re accustomed to receiving emails rife with cliched declarations of love both for your shop and the city it calls home, but forgive me if I add one more to your inbox.  Three years ago, I made a friend during a two month study abroad program in Paris.  We became inseparable and sought to fulfill our insatiable appetites for all things Parisian together.  We basked in the summer sun in the Jardin Luxembourg, drank red wine and ate steak at Cafe des Flores, left fire red lipstick marks on Oscar Wilde’s grave and feted in the streets as Zidane led France to one World Cup victory after another until the head butt heard round the world.   At this point in my life, I was already married to writing.  I was finishing up with a creative writing and English literature major at Columbia in New York and was intent upon becoming a slightly odd and definitely obsessive wordsmith.  I knew that my professional ambitions (“To write”) were seen as cute, at best, and naive and delusional and anachronistic, at worst, but I felt, and still feel, that this was not my decision to make.

B and I, along with the rest of our French Culture class, were taken to S & Co on a field trip by our teacher, MB, a jolly, round black man who was almost eerily fond of me.  Bruce was living in Paris on some type of academic scholarship (I believe he taught at Colby College in Maine?  I could look it up but I’m the last person in the world not on Facebook.)  He had the enviable itinerant life of a professor, and he introduced us to his favorite spots in the city: Montmartre, the Holocaust Memorial, Kilometro Zero, and S & Co.  My bibliophiliac heart skipped three beats upon entering and seeing rows and rows of colorful tomes.  My fingers danced lightly over the bindings.  I swooned at the sight of the love wall adorned with unabashed confessions of affection.  I thought of the Borges quote, “I can only sleep when I am surrounded by books,” and thought of the depth of REM I would surely achieve if allowed to slumber in that little cubby.

My last week in Paris, BA had gone home and I was aimless, as a good young American in Paris should be.  It took me a few days to muster up the courage to get back to S & Co.  I felt the way toward the shop you would toward an adolescent crush that didn’t know you existed, and so I put myself in the periphery of it and hoped to be noticed.  I watched the lovely, lanky kids carry a new bed into the shop and saw Sheila (I believe that is her name…small, slight, blond?) flit around speaking in English and French, shuffling papers, smiling widely.  I wanted to say something to her, but what could I say?  “I’m enamored of all this”?  So I wrote a note on a scrap of paper in my miniature handwriting and left it on her desk.  The last line was, “I hope you’ll have me some day.”

Cut to: three years later.  I’ve been writing in one capacity or another since I graduated from school.  I’ve been slaving over a book for a few years, which in the next year or so will finally come to fruition.  I’ve done tiny freelance work, written bar reviews, worked for a literary agent, contributed to magazines, helped transcribe and edit interviews for the souvenir book for the Broadway musical Xanadu! (That was actually pretty hysterical, and if I ever get famous I think someone ought to “discover” that piece and declare it my unsung masterpiece.  I can send it on if you want, which you know you do…)   I just wrote a piece for a New York-based magazine called Ghost about hunting Burmese python in Florida’s Everglades, as I’m living in Miami right now with my boss, a very successful, very Italian true crime writer who has Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  My duties for him are numerous: edit, take dictation, research, act as surrogate child for him and wife, feed and clothe and operate ventilator as needed, boost ego every 1-3 seconds, and answer phone in case one of his pals, most of whom acted on The Sopranos, calls (art imitating life imitating…)   Imagine Tuesdays with Morrie if Morrie were a wannabe mafioso.  Actually, BA suggested the title of my book about this experience be Tuesdays with Fucking Morrie, but we’re both assuming Mitch Albom would sue.  For her part, Becca has been nurturing the the souls of tomorrow teaching nursery school up at our alma mater and writing a column about love and relationships (yes, like Sex and the City, sans the insipid questions.)  She’s beginning work on her PhD in clinical psychology in the fall and wants the chance to scribble down all the short stories that have been brewing inside her brain before she has to turn her attention to papers and theses.  She can think of no place better to write without limits than in the city that most inspires her, in a place whose very foundation is inspiration.

The point: we desperately want to come stay at Shakespeare and Company.  We will sleep in any of the little beds in the shop, and in fact, will only take up one as a pair.  Consider us one blond sprite, not two.  We are both very small and nimble and willing to work late hours pouring hot tea for thirsty bards or ringing up purchases made by silly American college students who remind us of what we used to be, once upon a time.  We will pray to the texts originally owned by Sartre and de Beauvoir, and cry tears of literary joy by the banks of the Seine at night.  We will be oh-so-grateful to add this to our poetic resumes (between “hunted for twenty foot snakes in swamps in the name of narrative” and “fell in love doing the Proust Questionnaire in the wee hours.”)  We are lucky to have sampled once from the movable feast while we were young, but I hate to say it: we’re still hungry.

So…will you have us?  And if so, when can we come?  We can be ready at the drop of a pillbox hat.

Regardless of the answer…

Nous t’aimons,

ID and BA

PS If it would increase our chance of being welcomed, we’d be happy to print out this note, soak it in tea bags to give it that antiquated look, spritz it with perfume (Guerlain?  Chanel?) and deliver it by mail.

2 Responses to “A Proposal to Wander”

  1. Becca Says:

    Dream of dreams.

    “e) the shop has no cooking facilities either – though Paris is, as someone once said, a moveable feast. “

    • itinerantdaughter Says:

      I want points for mentioning it in my letter and then having them mention in the mass reply… though I guess it’s sort of an obvious one.

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