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Driving into Paris

France, December 2003

We had no idea how the Metro works. That meant that we really couldn't book a room on the ring road, the Peripherique. We wanted to be downtown that evening.

It was New Year's Eve ('03,) and the idea of trying to book a room in Paris seemed ridiculous. Maybe that wasn't true, but that seemed logical to us. So we didn't even try. On a whim, on Kim's suggestion, we just turned into the city.

We drove in a little bit, and decided we would just park. That was Kim's suggestion, too, and a good one. We had no idea where we were, for example, nor what we needed to find. We were in Paris, and that was our only plan. A friend had suggested a particular brand of inexpensive hotel, but in a massive city foreign to both of us there was little use trying to find a specific anything.

We saw a map. (There are good city maps at every Metro station entrance.) Kim had seen a market there, too, looking the other direction across the intersection. We decided we'd park where we were. We found a spot on a parking lane aside a normal street. We just wanted to get out of the car.

The parking meter box (buy a ticket and place it in your window) would only accept a card, available only at tobacco shops. We'd have to go find a tobacco shop. We got back into the car and began to drive.

A woman pulled in front of me at a jagged slant. I really had to hit the brakes — I would have crashed into her. I cursed her and honked my horn. Pedestrians looked as if they wondered why I would do such a thing. She looked at me without interest and continued onward.