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Dreaming of France: 29 Avenue Rapp

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Scrolling through my Instagram& finding this image, I’m surprised I haven’t shared this particular French door for Dreaming of France before. 29 Avenue Rapp boasts what might be the most famous door in Paris. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful.



Designed by Jules Lavirotte in 1901 it’s a striking example of Art Nouveau architecture and features the very risque sculpted Adam and Eve above the door. I first saw the building in the movie Gigi as the building where Gigi's Aunt Alicia lives and where Gigi goes for her lessons in how to catch the right man. Preferably someone rich like Gaston.

Naturally when Mark and I visited Paris, we had to pay the building a visit. What struck us about 29 Avenue Rapp was how many people just walk on by, as if were nothing special, just another old stone edifice, the door, just another entry. I think even if I lived on the block, even if I saw the building and its door every single day, I would still have to pause and take it in. Not a whole …

#15 Leaving Home: A Divorce Story [The Beginning]

#15 Euclid Street, Santa Monica, California

I've been married twice; one that didn't take, and one that did (knock on wood).This is about the one that didn't. You'll notice, it's only the beginning. I'm not sure how long it will end up being, as long — or as short — as it takes I guess. It's one of those transition pieces, the story that took me from my parents' apartment on Fourteenth Street in Santa Monica to a sweet little back house one short block away on Euclid, #15 of the On the Street Where I Live stories. If you've been here before you know this isn't a story in the fictional sense of the word, it's memoir. I'm of an age where I'm looking back, trying to figure out the route my life has followed. A few of you have showed an interest; thanks for that.


Also, I hate titles; mainly because I'm no good at them. I think I'll call this one 


Leaving Home


I looked at the clock glowing on the dashboard; just after eleven. I don't know why I felt uneasy. Phillip couldn't have come with us, he'd officially been promoted to Assistant Store Manager and that meant he had to close. He hadn't said much when I told him I was going to see the fireworks with Russell and his girlfriend, but logically I knew he couldn't mind. I went every year; marriage changed things but I didn't think it meant sitting at home and missing the annual fireworks over the Santa Monica pier just because he was stuck at the drug store until after 10pm on the fourth of July. Anyway, we'd all party together at our place after. 


Still, when we turned onto Euclid I couldn't stop the slightly sick feeling turning over in my stomach. The traffic had been the pits. It felt like we'd literally crawled the thirteen blocks from Ocean Avenue to our place. I could have walked home faster. Maybe I should have done that, walked home faster. But I'd been having such a great time with my brother, and Jennifer, and Larry, who'd come along at the last minute. People who'd known me forever and I could just relax with, people I could breathe with. An old family friend at this point, I knew Larry might still harbor a teensy crush on me, but I'd never been interested, and he'd never, ever acted on it. He was a funny looking little guy, prematurely old somehow with frizzy, mousey colored hair that sat like an abandoned nest on top of his head. Worse, he was dull. Make that Dull with a capital D. I just wasn't interested, but he was nice and well-intentioned and we'd known each other for so long, we'd settled into comfortable sibling-like companionship.


"Phillip won't mind it's so late, will he Simmy? Is it too late to come in?"

"No. Right? I mean, I hope not. Maybe I should have looked for a phone?" 
I knew that wasn't really an option, finding a pay phone and a place to park would have taken even longer. I was just feeling guilty because I'd had so much fun. Snaking our way through the stuffed up streets, with everyone honking, had been like a party. A party Phillip hadn't been invited to.

"He can't have been home that long," Russ said, pulling the car over. "How long does it take to close? At least a half hour, right?"


I saw him as soon as I got out of the car, storming across the lawn, still wearing his drug store uniform, a powder blue tunic shirt. Shit.


"Do you fucking know what time it is?"

"I'm so sorry honey!" I tried to laugh it off. "The traffic was terrible and-"
"The fireworks ended at 9:30. 9:30! It doesn't take two fucking hours to go thirteen blocks!"  He grabbed my arm, pulling me along the sidewalk.
"HEY!" My brother was standing by the car, one foot in, one foot out, keys in his hand. "Take it easy Phillip. All we did was see some fireworks. Calm down man."
"You fucking calm down." 
"It's okay, you guys." 

The three of them, my brother, his girlfriend and Larry, were standing by the car like statues, frozen, in disbelief I guess, figuring out whether they should stay or go. I almost couldn't believe it myself. And yet, here I was being dragged up the pathway by Phillip, who had turned into some sort of caveman. 


"We'll do it another time" I called out cheerily, an absurd show designed to convince them that everything was fine. "Everything's fine."

"Are you sure?" I could see Jenn did not think everything was fine.
"It's fine" I called back before we disappeared into the house. I stopped worrying about them when Phillip threw me across the bed. 

"Thank God" I thought,"Thank God." No one would expect me to stay now. Even my father, especially my father, would tell me to leave, never mind the money he'd spent. $10,000? $15,000? Even in 1975 it wasn't much to spend on a wedding but it was a lot for my parents. Phillip and I had been married three and a half months.



•••••••

Leaving Home: Part Two


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