When my dad died seven years ago, my brother and I had to undertake the arduous task of packing up his nearly 70 year life into boxes. Some things we gave to goodwill (furniture, kitchen goods), some things we threw away, but most went into boxes and into storage, where they sat up until two weekends ago, when my brother had everything brought to the garage at his new house. There was simultaneously less and more than I remember; maybe 60 boxes and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of paintings, canvases, framed, in stacks inside print racks. I went out this past weekend to help inventory the boxes and begin unraveling some of what we’ve kept out of sight over the last seven years, and also got to pick through and bring some things home with me. I suspect I will end up taking a LOT more as we really start unpacking (and we already have his drafting table as our dining table), but for now I took a few boxes of giant art books on Turner, Sargent, Monet, some dishes (like his espresso cup set and crème brûlée ramekins), and, most excitingly, several packs of photographs from his trip to Paris in the early 90s. He stayed in an apartment on Rue Cler with his best friend and his best friend’s wife.
When I try to explain to people what Paris means to me, it’s hard to verbalize because it just feels like an engrained piece of who I am. I’m Erin, I love Paris. Going through my dad’s things, seeing his piles of books of Paris walking tours and Parisian art history and Parisian maps and historical fictions, it became more obvious to me than ever before that this is genetic. I didn’t inherit Paris from thin air; Paris was a humongous part of my dad’s heart and soul, and it’s part of mine, too. I didn’t have a choice in the matter. It’s just how it is.
I debated over sharing these photos (some things are just a little too personal), but I couldn’t help but want to share the joy going through them brought me. There must be 300 photographs, and my dad is in precisely two. It was incredible seeing Paris through his eyes.
And there’s my daddy, somewhere in the Tuileries, pretending to hold up the Obélisque in the Place de la Concorde in the background. That was his uniform, right down to his beloved Teva sandals. If it were chilly he would wear socks with them. Chillier still, long pants, maybe a sweater. He’s right there, frozen in time in my favorite city in the entire world, just as goofy and fun as he always was. It’s the perfect photograph of him. My heart burst when I first flipped to it. Hi, daddy. You know I’m going to replicate this photo the next time I’m in Paris, right? Mais oui.
Have a wonderful weekend, kiddos. Hug your papas tight.