The road to Giverny

November 19, 2020

The one drain plug in this whole footloose, carefree and otherwise leaf blown approach to travel I outlined earlier presents itself when it comes to scheduled departures. Whether it’s planes, trains, busses or river ferries, the posted schedule has the same play on my neuroses pertaining to time as melting ice packs have for climate scientists. Never mind that most schedules list multiple departures throughout the day, the thought of missing my planned departure and having to just hang around waiting for the next one, is as unnerving to me as that climate scientist realizing the carbon dioxide goals of the Paris Accords are going to miss by a wide margin yet again. What makes what I experience more of a neurosis than the existential fear of my climate scientist is that I will arrive two hours early for a scheduled departure, rather than risk of the fear of arriving too late and having to wait an hour for the next one. The solution to my dilemma would seem more natural than anything comparable for climate change.

Yet so it was on the morning of our planned daytrip to Monet’s home in the Parisian suburb of Giverny that all of life as I knew it depended on making the 10:11 out of Paris’s Gare St. Lazare train station. To miss that train would not simply force us to have to wait for the next one (they ran hourly throughout the day), but throw off the bus connection to Monet’s gardens, the planned time spent looking at lily pads and period home furnishings, and in that way, enabling us to catch the late afternoon train back to Paris in time to enjoy Happy Hour.

What makes what I experience more of a neurosis than the existential fear of my climate scientist is that I will arrive two hours early for a scheduled departure, rather than risk of the fear of arriving too late and having to wait an hour for the next one

The route from our hotel, according to GPS, involved a four minute walk to the metro station, an eleven minute ride on the #13, and then another four minute walk to St. Lazare, for a total of 19 minutes. So I doubled it and added another 30 minutes to account for all possible delays (getting lost, taking the wrong train, track closings, terror attacks, dodging dog merde, etc.), and  explained to Carol why we had to rush through to the metro for the St. Lazare station (cagily leaving out the part that the entire day was timed to make that late afternoon train back to Paris for Happy Hour). She breathlessly soldiered on with me for the twenty minute dash on foot and the ride via the 13 metro. I rushed to the Departures board, but couldn’t see our train. “It’s not up yet,” I said to Carol, both of us still slightly out of breath.   

Carol returned an ever-so-slightly withering look and said, “What?” From then on it was mutually agreed that I would eliminate some of the logistical padding for unexpected delays (keeping the allowance for dodging dog merde, at least in Paris) and arrive for departures without enough time left over for a three course lunch.

Oh, and according to my notes from the first trip together, I also began working on my attire. Apparently in Bordeaux, Carol needed to stop at a shop and replace some makeup. I told her I would wait outside. “Well, don’t sit down,” she said to me, “people will give you money.”   

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