Attachment. Non. Merci.
We get attached to concrete objects—dishes, cell phones, cars, houses.
We get attached to ideas—roles we play and maintaining this is right and that is wrong.
We get attached to comfort—and thinking that we oughtn’t be uncomfortable.
We get attached to self and others.
We get attached to plans.
We’re at the top of the Arc de Triomphe. Me and my son.
(Jane and Annie opted to sit at the bottom.)
I am so delighted to be here with my family.
Ask me how I am and I’ll answer, “I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve such a blessed life.”
I am thinking, hoping, that Emmett will take his family here one day.
(And, while I don’t remember much of it, I know that I was here with my family in my youth.)
I have an aha! Moment.
I know what we’ll do next.
It will be perfect.
We’ll walk to “Le Drugstore” and I’ll buy Annie and Jane the red-and-white-bristled hair brushes that my sister and mom bought years ago and still use.
And I’ll pay for it using the debit card I received as a gratuity from a couple.
That will remove the sting from the expense.
Emmett and I meet up with Annie and Jane, sprint across the street, and make our way to “Le Drugstore,” where, because it’s Paris, we are greeted by the store concierge.
We pass the foodstuffs section—and see their variety of macarons—the Oreo-esque sandwich cookies with creamy filling, but that’s where the comparison ends.
“Dad, can we get some?”
I see the price, grunt, and hope my “Let’s see later” will keep this idea from taking hold.
I search for the brushes.
Well, they have brushes, but nothing you couldn’t get at a CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, or Target.
I ask in pidgin French, “Please, are there, maybe, any, some more hairbrushes?” “Merci, avez-vous plus chose de hairbrush?”
I’m answered in plain English, “These are all the hairbrushes we have.”
I find the combs my dad used to buy, but I don’t want a Kent—made in England—comb. I want to buy Annie and Jane a fancy brush. Maybe two.
Annie asks again about the macarons. I angrily hand her 20 Euros as I grab my water bottle from her with more force than either of us was expecting.
“Sorry, honey. I don’t like how I did that,” I say and then, “Tell mom I’ll be outside.”
When my bride comes to meets me, I tell her, “It’s like I’m having a flashback to the war. I’m in a horrible mood.”
“All about a hairbrush?” she says with a laugh, inviting me to do the same.
Jane is skilled at attending to both my inner child and my rational adult.
I can’t yet manage a laugh.
I sigh a bit.
“Give me a minute. I’ll meet you all down by that bench in a bit.” I say and take my leave and walk towards the next corner.
I sit there, stewing.
I get this upset because the plan that I had—the thing that I thought should happen—didn’t.
And this isn’t anything of great importance.
That it didn’t happen doesn’t matter.
Wow. I got hooked on how I thought things should go.
I wonder what would have happened if I had instead handed Annie the debit card and said, “Go crazy. Buy all the macarons you want.” That might have given her a memory to share with her future family.
Postscript about the hairbrushes:
I tell my mom about the hair brushes not being in stock.
She tells me the Mason Pearson hair brushes I was looking for are made in London.