From Global Mom: A Memoir
(Continued from last post: “French School, A Scream”)
At least as French, but more exquisite to me than sword fighting, was our Wednesday afternoon ritual. In fewer than ten minutes, even with traffic, we could drive from Parc Monceau to the Louvre, park, dart right in, take our lunch at one of the cafés near the glass pyramid (wherever there were the fewest tour groups), wipe our mouths, and, sketchbooks and pencils in hand, make our way to the Richelieu wing. That is where we found our private sanctuary, the Cour Puget.
The Cour Puget is a three-story tiered hall flooded with natural light. Its ceiling is a variation on the famous I.M. Pei glass pyramid. . .
. . .Its walls and statues nearly all bone-colored marble. Entering, you might feel you’re walking into the reception hall of heaven. At least we did. At nine and five years old, our two youngest were normally kinetic experiments gone awry, but when we entered heaven. . .
. . .We all settled into a new rhythm that stirred our creative juices into a mellow foam. This is the setting that made the three of us feel we were artists. More important than becoming artists, though, we became each other’s intimates.
Once – and only once – we thought we’d wander over to the Cour Marly just across the corridor, check out what the Renaissance statutes there were up to; but it didn’t feel right, didn’t feel like our place. “Our place” was the Cour Puget, up on the top tier on a marble bench against the wall. After a few minutes, one of us would be sprawled or curled up at the foot of the statue we were sketching. The guards who rotated daily came to expect the three of us there at about the same hour every Wednesday afternoon. A nod, a reciprocated “Bonjour les enfants”, and we knew we were in our element.
“So, who do you think this guy is?” I asked, Dalton on one side, Luc on the left. We were staring up into the piercing eyes of Caton d’Utique.
“And check out the serpent,” Dalton said, turning to see a Mr. Universe Spartacus wrestling the beast to the ground.
“But why’ve they got this statue of John Kerry?” Luc asked, walking over to a bust of the French scientist, Cuvier.
We would go home and Google the background of our favorite statues, then go back the next Wednesday to make up stories, stories we wove into a screenplay, we three floor-squatters. Ours was an elaborate screenplay about the Louvre and its statues and all the lives embedded in stone. Dalton cast his imagined movie, role-for- role as we three sat with our sketchpads on our laps, capturing a young Joan of Arc or a dying marathon runner in the gentle brilliance of the Cour Puget.
In every way those Wednesdays were a delight to me. The light, no matter what the weather outside, was always brighter during those hours than anywhere else in the world. I was with my children, we had baguette crumbs on our sweaters, the sky was warm, we were surrounded by history and beauty and tourists, tourists we realized we were not. We basked in great art and created mediocre art ourselves, but more importantly, we created a moment that defined the three of us as part of this place, part of each other. I saw to it that a woman in a Louvre children’s bookstore hung my boys’ two best completed works on the official corkboard. We laughed in the van that their artwork now hangs in the Louvre.
(To be continued. . .)