Friday, June 18, 2010

The World in the Palm of Our Hands

I heard a gasp behind me as I walked along the Seine in Paris. The year was 1996. I turned around and saw my colleague, Diana with her jaw dropped and eyes wide open. "What?" I said. "It's Notre Dame, do you you think we can go inside?" she asked with sheer astonishment. Sometimes we grow used to the beauty of a face, the way the sun catches a glint in the eye or bounces off of a child's lock of hair. The same can happen to our surroundings as they become the norm. My walks in Paris can regularly take me past places such as Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and other landmarks. Most often I am inwardly reflecting on the presence, beauty and historical significance as I walk around the city. I note the way the setting sun rests upon the architecture, the water and nature and soak it in with each breath. But this was Diana's first trip working to Paris and this wasn't the norm. She had just come over to the international operation and was along with the rest of us for the day. "Of course we can go in," we all agreed. We paused and relived the excitement of seeing and feeling the power inside this magnificent cathedral as the sun streamed in through the rose windows. The world seemed to be in the palm of our hands.

Yesterday, 14 years later was Diana's last trip after 42 years as a flight attendant. We were back in Paris where it's beauty had become the norm for Diana, but like me, she always inwardly felt the love and appreciation of this magical city as she walked around. It became a comfortable love as it grew from the bolt of lightning infatuation to an experienced passion. She had chosen this City of Light to mark the exit from her career as a flight attendant. We all wanted to celebrate by taking her out for dinner. We went to Bistro De La Muette, which was recommended by some of the crew. We arrived for our 7:30 reservation to a table set up near the outside on this beautiful evening.
Two of the flight attendants had ridden the Vélib' bicycles across the city to the restaurant and met us there. The waiter then brought us all a Kir Royale and we made a toast to Diana for a happy retirement. We chose from the 38 euro prix fixte menu which included an apperitif, 3 courses, a bottle of wine for every 2 people and coffee. The first course offered among other choices, Smoked Salmon, Foie Gras and a Tartare of Avocado with Lobster. The main course offerings were equally as appetizing. There were Lamb Chops with Thyme and Dauphinois Potatoes, Southwestern Roasted Duck with a Cherry Sauce and Fresh Tagliatelle, Steak and Frites, dishes with organic shrimp and much more. The desserts sounded so good that we ordered different ones and tasted each others. The Molten Chocolate Cake with Caramel was dressed with pretty pink spun sugar on top. The warm Apple Tart and sorbet had swirly, festive caramelized sugar decorations. The table next to us had Crepes Suzette with a flaming orange sauce. This was traditional French bistro fare at it's best, and the restaurant was packed. I think Diana felt like the Belle of the Ball on this last evening of her airline career, but her feelings must have been bittersweet. We paid the bill and made our way back to the hotel. Five of us took the Vélib' bicycles back for a late night ride, and 3 opted for a cab. The blur of the Eiffel Tower sparkled in the night as we quickly went by. We marveled at this jewel that had become our norm.

At the end of the flight home, as she bade everyone and her 42 year career good-bye, I gave Diana a token of remembrance.
She will always have the world in the palm of her hand!

Bistro De La Muette
10, chaussee de la Muette
metro: La Muette or Passy

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