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Meghan Cox Gurdon: From Paris, an au revoir to readers of The Washington Examiner newspaper

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Local,Meghan Cox Gurdon,France,Paris

As alert readers know, tomorrow is the last newspaper edition of The Washington Examiner. Beginning next week, the work of my colleagues who write about politics and policy will appear on the Internet, which is now the heart of our culture, and in a weekly magazine. This fact is melancholy to some, exciting to others; but in a way, it doesn't really matter what we think. Time surges on, things change, and we either change with the times or --

Well, in my case, we leave our family and move to Paris with a much younger man. As I write this, gentle reader, I am living in a tiny flat on the top floor of a crumbly apartment building in a fashionable arrondissement. There is no sound in this place, apart from the gurgling of the tiny Euro-fridge behind me that is sufficient only to hold a bottle of wine and a few wedges of pungent cheese. Do not make me laugh, Americans, with your Costco portions, with your expectation of ice! Hah!

The tub here also does not hold water, so to bathe one must choose to: a) sit shivering, spraying oneself with a hand-held spigot like the English, b) wrap the plug with a plastic bag to create a seal, American-style, and pray that the thing fills faster than it drains, or c) go native and embark on the whole soap-and-water rigmarole only rarely. Judge if you must, but I am beginning to understand the European popularity of option three.

Fortunately, like almost all Americans here, I am better dressed than I am at home. I have learned to know my compatriots by their scarves, objects of adornment sometimes seen on Parisian women but universally sported here by our own. We are also easily spotted by the absence of cigarettes between our fingers and the funny scrunched-up faces we make in cafes where we're trying to taste our steak tartare amid the blue clouds of foreign people's tobacco.

Yes, it's pretty much nonstop vie en rose, though I have experienced the odd disappointment. The younger man, for instance, is my 16-year-old son, and his reaction to many of the grand sites has suited his age more than mine. To be precise, his honest responses to world-famous sights sometimes threaten to expose me as a pretentious prat.

"Isn't she exquisite?" I asked him breathlessly, as he and I and 200 other museumgoers jostled around the "Venus de Milo."

"I don't know," he said. "Her face is kind of like a sloth's."

Furthermore, to my chagrin, information I gained in adolescence has not wholly stood the test of time. I have had wonderful episodes of twittering and trilling in high school French, sometimes comprehensibly, but fatigue has a way of fooling with fluency. At one point, believing myself to be asking a waitress for the bill, I requested a plate. Another time, I suddenly and unexpectedly told a cashier that I was American. It was apropos of absolutely nothing, but the phrase plopped out, and there was no way to retrieve it. Having declared my nationality and completed my purchase, I writhed away in silent mortification.

So, as elegant, refined and beautiful as Paris may be, obviously I can't stay: My son and I have return tickets in a few days, and we will slink back home to the family we love with sore feet, some Chanel duty-free, a few contraband Kinder Eggs and happy memories of lost time.

I will miss this place, even the gurgling Euro-fridge. And you, dear Washington Examiner reader -- I will miss you, too! Au revoir.

Meghan Cox Gurdon's column appears on Sunday and Thursday. She can be contacted at mgurdon@washingtonexaminer.com.

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