But there are remises or storage places where you may leave or store certain things such as a locker trunk or duffel bag containing personal effects or the unpublished poems of Evan Shipman or marked maps or even weapons there was no time to turn over to the proper authorities and this book contains material from the remises of my memory and of my heart. Even if the one has been tampered with and the other does not exist.
We’ll start the literary journey with Hemingway, an author I have appreciated but disliked up until now, something I attribute to a lack of understanding and a very naive vision of the world, or perhaps just a sober one. Hemingway’s conclusion to the first book of his that I have ever enjoyed, A Moveable Feast, a series of vignettes about his life in Paris and his young love for and later separation from his first wife, Hadley, ends with his talk about remises and being sued by everyone ever mentioned in the book. I see Hadley as somewhat a representation of a Paris that Hemingway, nor any other man, can ever revive–a new, unexplored city filled with alleys and nooks that remained untinkered with and restaurants that were just beginning to gain social significance and that would later be glamorized and shot down and changed in political alignment and meddled with by things that have nothing to do with food. Young Hadley/Paris was existence without heat, with little pay and long, contemplative strolls through the Jardin du Luxembourg because there was, simply, nothing else to do and no other way to pass time freely or warmly. Young Hadley/Paris meant gambling and climbing the Swiss Alps to hitch skis to your feet and writing as-of-yet unwritten tales about a life that would disappear into mode and hairstyles and pubs that were made to look old with oil and hazlenut shells.
I think Hemingway would have been indignant at the new new Paris, moreso than he was at the new Paris of his time, but that he would have eventually settled for bemusement at the city of black-skinny-jean-wearing, fashionably bespeckled 20-somethings visiting his old haunt Shakespeare and Company, the English bookstore that has grown into a trendy phenonomenon where starving writer wannabes trade cash register duty for a free bed. I think that Hemingway would have landed upon bemusement at the thought of all these hipsters and bobos dressing and reading and writing the part of, well, Hemingway. As he longed for the old Paris, so does this generation, a curse that will continue until, perhaps, the lost Paris is forgotten, or reading is no longer trendy, or gourmandise is no longer linked with socio-economical alignment, or…
It is the nature of Paris to be ever-changing, to never quite be what is wanted from it, as Baudelaire and Gide and Hemingway and all their contempories have said, but it is also the nature of Paris to be loved and defended for what it is at the moment. With that in mind, I set out to spend seven months in France, stirring up its literary past while also learning what it has become over generations. As Hemingway concluded A Moveable Feast, so I begin a literary exploration of Europe, and of famous ex-pats in Europe, and of food and art and cycling and down comforters and of living every day in my third language: with a small place to store it all, a remise in which to place its memories, happy and scared and comfortable, which will one day disappear unless treated with care, like a growing city or a young wife.