It’s Only Just a Bistro

Greetings, Readers.

Well, y’all. I got a job. It’s in retail, 20-25 hours per week, for $8.25 an hour. It is not what I hoped to be doing and because I am a big believer in “fake it ‘til you make it,” I am doing all right, but I really don’t want to be doing it, even still. Honestly, while I thought taking the job at a well-known retailer geared towards families — an offshoot of a famous San Francisco clothing company — was going to quell the household dissent (see previous post), it did for only about five minutes. And then the dialogue shifted to, “It’s not enough. You need to do more.” *siiiiiiigh*

I’m working on it. Have some ideas up my sleeve. But that is not what I want the focus to be for this post. Something much more interesting is going on in my head and I want to share what it is. It has to do with this photo here:

Le Bistrot Gourmand as seen from the film "Just a Sigh."

Le Bistrot Gourmand as seen from the film “Just a Sigh.”

This is a screen shot from my iPhone 5s of the film «Le temps de l’aventure» (“Just a Sigh” in English), starring French actress Emmanuelle Devos and Irish actor Gabriel Byrne. It’s from approximately minute 37 in the film although this bistro figures prominently from about minute 32 in the film.

I have stood exactly where Ms. Davos is walking in the photo above.

Le Bistrot Gourmand is a real place at 28 rue Guersant, slightly past Boulevard Pereire (you can see it on Google Maps here). Just down the passage is the place where my ex works. This corner bistro is where most everyone from the office gathers after work on Friday nights and has done so for just about as many decades as both have been located there.

I have not kept it a secret how I struggled so much my first months in Paris after my arrival in June 2008. I was near-paralyzed with agoraphobic tendencies. It would take me 20 minutes just to psych myself up to walk out our apartment door. Well, this bistro was the very first place I ever went to in Paris by myself that June. Paul had drawn me a meticulously-detailed map, one I still likely have in a journal in a box back in Paris. I was able to take Métro Line 2 from Jaurès to Ternes, and walk all the way to rue Guersant, where Paul and I gathered with all his co-workers for glasses of Kronenbourg 1664 or too much red wine. These were the days before both Paul and I got much wiser about alcohol consumption.

The first place I went to by myself of all the places in Paris; the first time I ventured out alone. The first time I made a new friend in my new city.

Her name is Eliza, Paul’s co-worker. I remember standing with her outside the front door of Le Bistrot Gourmand. I was smoking, I’m sure. June of 2008 was back when I was still smoking like a fireman (and everyone does, it seems, in Paris). We got to talking. It came around to how I was interested in getting back into yoga and she was interested in doing that as well. About six months later, she located a studio for us to go to, Ashtanga Yoga Paris — a place and a practice that I feel quite literally saved my life. It’s located in a different place now, but its original location was an island of serenity, health, and well-being for me — the tiny upstairs room that fit about 12-15 yogis and yoginis, max, was such a place of peace. I don’t even think that owners Gérald and Linda knew how much they were giving me at the time, but that place really helped me hold on to living and well-being. Thanks to Eliza, I discovered them and was healed by the yoga practice there.

Eliza was also there for me in very critical ways in January of 2011, when things happened about which I don’t feel comfortable writing here, but which readers of my former blog in Paris will know was a very difficult time. Her being there for me, and for Paul, too, was so deeply helpful.

At last, Eliza also introduced me to someone who has become one of my dearest friends: my friend Frédéric, language partner extraordinaire and someone with whom I keep in touch regularly still today.

Thank you, Eliza, for channeling my guardian angel while I was in Paris and keeping watch over me. You are a wonderful spirit.

This bistro, however, carries more than that. Paul sent me photos of this bistro before I even went to France to live with him — I knew about it from back in early 2006.

This bistro and I go back a ways, is what I’m getting at. Can you imagine how strange it is that a place that became somewhat legend in my mind shows up in a film? And that I was down in my parents’ basement in northern Colorado, watching it on Netflix on my iPhone eight, almost nine, years after first learning of the bistro which has a starring role in it?

The story gets deeper. On Saturday, May 26, 2012, Paul posted this on his on-indefinite-hiatus Paris photo blog here. It’s a cell phone photo Paul took of Gabriel Byrne between takes in the filming of the scenes at the bistro. Paul and Eliza saw him that day, and Eliza was brave enough to speak to Mr. Byrne and say “thank you.”

The date the photo was taken, Friday, May 25, 2012, was one day after I had gone to the U.S. Consulate in Paris to find out I’d likely need to return permanently to the States. This date and this photo represent the beginning of the end of my Paris story.

Let me explain a little more. I am a believer in synchronicity and patterns showing us necessary information about our lives, about our story in life. I see things in narrative form, and I look for symbolism within (you can take the Literature major out of the university, but never the Literature major mindset out of the girl. Or something like that. Just call me Miss Malaprop).

Le Bistrot Gourmand’s showing up in my life as it has over eight years mirrors the narrative arc of me and my story of Paris.

When I first encountered Paul online, it felt magical. So many synchronicities and patterns emerged in my life in 2005 and carried on from there over the next three years. So many of those magical experiences cast him with a leading role. The photos of the bistro Paul sent were also a kind of dream — a representation of what I felt was coming in my future: a move to Paris. Between 2007 and 2008, a story was emerging from within myself that Paul was a “soulmate of soulmates” — we have dozens of soulmates that populate our lives, I came to believe. But ONE of them is so extraordinary that some of us, those of us who have chosen it for this lifetime, have a path of destiny with that special person.

In the story in my mind, a story I felt I was clairvoyantly receiving, I was to meet this person and all kinds of extraordinary things would emerge. I believed this meeting was to happen with me and that relationship with this person would finish out the latter half of my life (I turned 40 just before moving to Paris, you might recall). I used to believe this person was Paul.

Was I delusional in receiving these knowings, delusional in believing such a thing exists? Perhaps.

I can only say this at this point: the reality of the bistro pictured here is that it is just a place. It is no more magical than any other, and while it helped me tremendously along my path, through hosting synchronous relationships and the emergence of good things in my life, I now understand those things happened because I was willing and open to receive them, and I, in fact, am responsible for those good things happening in my life because I was willing to look for them and follow my intuition when needed.

The bistro is just a place. The man is just a man — a soulmate, no doubt, if such things exist, but mortal and faulty, as was the relationship.

It has taken me the past two (and more) years to come to this conclusion — that the “bistro was just a bistro” if you get my drift.

Watching this place in the movie, I still had a sense of the extraordinary, however. How often in life can someone say that a place that touched his or her life in such intimate and profound ways shows up as a key setting for a key scene in a movie? That out of the hundreds (maybe thousands?) of bistros in all of Paris, this particular one was chosen for this film and years after knowing about it, I got to watch the film in a basement in Colorado? I still get floored by coincidences, don’t get me wrong. All of that still a really remarkable thing.

(See. I’m secretly still a believer in magic. I can no more break my magical bone in my body than I can take out my own spleen. Something truly devastating would have to happen — has already happened, and failed? — for me to lose my sense of magic and goodness in the world. Just like major internal surgery due to an accident would be needed to remove my spleen. Goddess forbid either ever happens.)

Seeing Le Bistrot Gourmand on my little iPhone in a basement bedroom in northern Colorado brought me closure, however. For instead of any weeping for a place in my past, weeping for a person whom I thought had a special place in my life for forever, I smiled with recognition, peace, neutrality.

I realized, “I’m completely over it, I’m completely over him. It’s not what I thought it was. It’s not what I wanted it to be. But it is what it is: just a bistro in Paris. Still really a remarkable thing. But a thing I now watch in retrospect, as in a movie that has already been filmed and has a beginning, middle, and an end.”

And it also made me think. If it was not him who is soulmate of soulmates, then just maybe there is still one out there. Maybe my clairvoyance and claircognizance were still correct, but the story is not finished, yet. Not that I am looking, because one thing I have really come to see: I am my best Soulmate, I am my best ballast.

Signing off with a joyful and free heart,

I’m your lady, Karin, always looking for ballast.

Leave a comment


  1. Rose

     /  November 24, 2014

    Beautifully written.

  2. Maria O. Russell

     /  November 24, 2014

    I’ve been wondering all this time how you were doing!
    I’m so happy you’re working, it will help you so much…
    Not only because you’re obviously getting paid, but also because mentally, it will give you another perspective….

    Loved what you tell us about Le Bistrot Gourmand!
    How well you know that city! I’m very impressed. I told you in one of my comments, a while ago, how nobody can take your Paris journey away from you. It will always be with you, because I suspect you’ve got it under your skin. Just like I’ve got your beautiful, generous, great country under mine……

    And Ms. Rose is so right. Your post is so beautifully written! Delightful!
    Hope your children are doing fine, Karin.
    Happy Thanksgiving y un enorme abrazo.
    Tu amiga:

    • Thank you, dear Maria. I realized this week marked almost a month passing since writing last! Time is flying, as it is wont to do!

      I really wanted to have something good to write about, too — et voilà! The Universe provided! :D

      I am learning I don’t like the job, and I don’t like this kind of retail, BUT, there are some good and kind people working there, and my presence is needed, for a little while longer. Hopefully, I’ll have more good news soon of a job more in line with my life’s purpose and passion. :-)

      You know, writing this helped me see that while Paris is definitely a nexus, and a place that seems to help people transition in their lives, and is a gorgeous place in many ways, it’s not the city that got under my skin so much as the stories I made with people while there. I loved making those life stories, and yes: I’ll have them for always.

      Thank you for the compliments on the writing. I have to confess I’m still editing even now, on my teeny tiny iPhone, haha! While I’m glad it’s readable and enjoyable, it’s also not past revision, lol. ;-) So many grammar errors I have made — I’ve repaired many, but I’m sure some remain. But THANK YOU for feeling the spirit of the thing, Maria.

      Thank you for the Thanksgiving wishes and gros câlins pour toi, aussi! xx

  3. Maria O. Russell

     /  November 25, 2014

    To me, the wording of your post is perfect!
    We learn and are entertained, always! by your writing.
    And THAT, dear Karin…is the idea…….

    Besides, who are we to judge?
    I can’t even “redactar” correctly in my own language…….

    • I’m so glad you enjoy reading, Maria! It is the most important thing in writing: to inform, entertain, or inspire. Or better yet, all three at the same time. :-) I’m glad you feel that way about what you read here.

  4. “one thing I have really come to see: I am my best Soulmate, I am my best ballast.”
    What a lovely life lesson. :-)

    • Thank you, Amy. :-) Sorry it took me forever to come here and acknowledge your presence in a comment.

      I like re-reading that statement up there, too! It’s like a really great mantra.


  5. M. I. Mignard

     /  January 11, 2015

    Hi there, Karin!
    Just a short note to tell you I hope everything is all right with you and your family.
    Happy New Year!
    Un gran abrazo:

    • Thank you so much, Maria! Happy New Year to you.

      Oh dear, more time has passed since I’ve written, hasn’t it. I wish I had Internet access at home! I’ll try to post an update very soon. Meanwhile, big hugs from Colorado, and know I’m well. A little shaken after this past week’s events in Paris, but holding the line.

      Be well. :-)

  6. like your blog. So chatty


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