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Free Jeans Included

photo: new mexico view

Price of house includes this view.

Paris Life - No. 13

by Laurel Avery

Santa Fe:- Monday, 28. July:- At six o'clock this morning, after the first night I was actually able to sleep because it had finally cooled off enough to do so, I was awakened by the call of mourning doves right outside my window.

Had this been Paris I would certainly have slept right through it, since I am now used to various sounds coming through my bedroom window at all hours. But I am in Santa Fe, where it is so quiet you can hear the grass growing - if there was any here. Okay, it's so quiet you can hear the chamisa and pinon growing.

I have returned to Santa Fe to finish up some business and get my house sold, in order to really settle into my new life in France. Having now lived in Paris for the past two and a half months, returning to the States has been something of a culture shock.

I know that I have not been away for very long, but having gotten used to a Parisian way of life where I can just run downstairs every morning and get a fresh baguette, still hot from the oven, the thought of getting in my old beat-up Subaru and driving ten minutes to the nearest market for a loaf of bread that may have been baked a couple of weeks ago is not particularly pleasant.

Instead I must content myself with a bowl of Captain Crunch, one of my guilty pleasures which seemingly cannot be found in Paris, even at the nearby shop where expatriate Americans can get everything from Apple Jacks to Ziplocs.

So I'm sitting down at my dining table with my tea and cereal and looking out at my view. Now, it's a toss-up as to which is the better view, the one from here or the one from my apartment in Paris.

They are both pretty spectacular. I will miss seeing rainbows framed against a background of mountains and endless sky that is the reason why so many people flock to Santa Fe. But then looking out at the Eiffel Tower over the rooftops of Paris every day isn't so bad either!

As far as I can tell, realtors here and in France are no different. As far as I'm concerned, they are the equivalent of used car salesmen. Hey, I can place some ads in the newspaper myself and it won't cost me anywhere near the six percent they get as a commission. I just don't see how they can justify the cost when all they do - from my point of view as a seller - is place a few ads, show someone my house, and take care of some paperwork.

It takes as much effort to sell a cheap house as an expensive one, yet I get to pay thousands of dollars more for the same work because my house is worth more than someone else's. That's like paying four times as much as the person next to you at the grocery store for the same items because they drive an old beat-up Subaru and you drive a BMW.

Nevertheless, I get screwed both ways, as it is the buyer who pays the commission in a French real estate transaction, as opposed to the seller who pays in the U.S. So by selling my home in the States and moving to France I get to pay the realtors twice!

Being briefly back in the U.S., I have the opportunity to pick up a few things that, in France, are absurdly expensive. Jeans, for instance.

If I actually bought enough Levis here in the States to fill two suitcases, I could probably pay for my entire trip with the profits.

They cost something like 80 euros a pair in France, as opposed to about 30 dollars on sale here in the U.S. I can't figure out why. After all, denim originally came from France, right?

It's called denim precisely because it was the serge fabric created in the southern French town of Nimes - 'serge de Nimes.' The French probably jack up the price because they are mad that we took something they had relegated to the peasants and proceeded to make huge profits from it.

That, or perhaps they just want to impose a hefty tax on any French person who wants to dress like an American.

There is also no place anywhere in France like a Walgreen's or CVS. Yesterday I walked into a drug store and marvelled - as if I had never seen one before - at the endless shelves of aspirin, cough medicine, cold medications and scores of other things right there at arms' reach.

In France you need to ask the pharmacist for even a bottle of aspirin! And tophoto: rainbow have to ask for something like a laxative would make anyone prefer to suffer rather than let everyone in the pharmacy know about their digestive problems.

In the U.S. you can walk into a drug store with your sunglasses on and pick up all manner of embarrassing products with nobody but you and the checkout clerk the wiser for it.

But I must admit to feeling more than a little brain-dead here. For some reason my mind and senses became a bit dulled once I stepped off the plane in the States.

It could be the altitude, but I have created more art in Paris in my short time there than in my six years in Santa Fe. So I guess Paris is good for me.

And anyone who wants to buy a really nice house in Santa Fe, please let me know. I'll even throw in a free pair of jeans!

Text and photos, Laurel Avery © 2003
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