I was having dinner with a friend from work last night in a small
restaurant on the Ile St. Louis, and it turned into an interesting
opportunity to teach, and to learn. My friend is someone I work with --
another American ex-pat, a former jazz pianist turned tech writer,
originally from San Francisco but living and working here in Europe for
the last dozen years, so we have a lot in common and lots to talk about.
But we wound up talking about none of those things because two people
came in and sat at the small table next to us.

They were an older woman (but younger than either of us) and a young
girl (who we learned was 12). The girl heard us talking in English and
started a conversation, and I'm glad she did. It turns out she is from
Atlanta, brought here by her grandmother for her first trip to Europe.
The grandmother is doing this because the young girl is an aspiring
artist, and she wanted her granddaughter to have the experience of
seeing this place and its art close up, in person.

And they both turned out to be charming. Both were so open to
suggestions as to what to see and where to go while in Paris, and my
friend and I both benefited from hearing them talk about the things
they'd seen so far. It was like being able to experience them for the
first time ourselves -- all the excitement, all the wonder.

It was a charming evening, and I hope that we were able to steer both of
them to some sights and experiences they will enjoy and cherish, and
that will inspire them as they inspired us. My biggest "take away" from
the evening, however, was seeing the joy in the young girl's eyes, and
in her grandmother's at having been able to help put it there, and
looking forward to being able to do the same thing some day for Maya.

Fuck enlightenment, or realization, or any of the things that people
here seem to "live for." If there is anything that'll inspire me to keep
on keepin' on for another few years, it's the idea of being able to show
Paris and other cool places to Maya for the first time...

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