When I was young, maybe in the first or second grade, there was a schoolyard chant that was directed at me. Kids being kids, the chant wasn’t very kind. It went like this:
Went to Paris
To go see Roger Maris
To a seven year-old kid, who didn’t know anything about Paris, or even who Roger Maris was (he played before my time, and I wasn’t a baseball fan yet), this was traumatic stuff. Most of all, I knew that “horrible” meant really bad, and I didn’t want to be that. I didn’t want to hear it so, of course, I heard it a lot, for a week or so until the novelty was gone and everyone moved on to something else.
Time went by, as it always does, and one day a couple of decades later I found myself in Paris, of all places. I wrote of my appreciation for the city here. It was a trip that I had wanted to take my whole life: the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysees, the cathedral at Notre Dame, Jim Morrison’s grave, and all of the museums. Museums were everywhere, including the palace at Versailles, which has to be the largest museum on earth.
I really like this shot of me in front of I.M. Pei’s Pyramid. It’s such a contrast with the setting around it. I know that feeling, to be out of place and unappreciated. But love it or hate it, it’s just going to be there, regardless. I am the pyramid, in some ways. And I don’t look too bad in the picture, either.
I flew home from Paris with my wife on her birthday. As a result of flying west across the Atlantic, we gained an extra seven hours to the day, making it the longest day of my life, literally. It was a departure I didn’t want to make, because I really did love the experience that Paris is. But in the years since then, children have come into our lives, and life has moved along pretty well. It’s a life that I could have scarcely imagined back in second grade.
I’ve often said I’ll never leave Chicago, at least not until my kids are grown and the Cubs win the World Series. One of these things I’m desperately waiting for, and the other one I’m not. But if both should happen, and I’m old and not terribly poor, I’d love to just go off to Paris like Jimmy Buffett once sang about. And Roger Maris isn’t with us anymore, or else I would look him up when I got there.