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Paris: A Love Storyby Kati Marton
Like a human snowplow, I surge against the flow of chanting, banner-waving students pouring into the boulevard St.-Germain. I am determined to get to the Café de Flore before Richard does. My husband has flown all night from Kabul on a military plane. I am merely crossing from the fifth into the sixth arrondissement. As he shuttles between Washington, Kabul, and Islamabad, we have little time together; minutes matter. But this is the Latin Quarter, and it is October, the season of student manifestations. Les manifs are a routine feature of my Parisian neighborhood, and I usually enjoy their high-spirited revolutionary theater. Not today. The students have blocked traffic on St.-Germain and prevented Richard's car from reaching our apartment on the rue des Écoles.
Hot and sweaty, I arrive at the terrace of the Flore. Richard is already there and, as usual these days, he is on the phone. As he is looking up, his smile momentarily lifts travel fatigue from his features. "You're late!" he says, a hand covering the phone. He hangs up, and we kiss. Then we exhale in unison from sheer relief that we are together--and in Paris! That is how it has been for the past two years. Days stolen from a devouring job.
Richard takes out his frayed wallet to pay for our citrons pressés. "See," he says, "it's still here," a faded Polaroid of the two of us in the Tuileries Garden taken in 1994, wearing matching expressions of goofy happiness. "And I still have this," he says, proudly extracting the torn corner of a phone message pad with my sister's Paris telephone number. In 1993, he tracked me down with that number. His amulette. "You are a ridiculously sentimental man," I tell him.
Holding hands, we navigate between the green street cleaning machines that are already vacuuming up the debris of the street protest, as we make our way to the rue des Écoles. We have one night together. He will fly to Brussels the next day for a conference he has called on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
On this balmy fall afternoon, we are not thinking about that. It always feels right to meet in the city where we began our life together. Paris is also roughly midway between Washington and the world's bleakest conflict zone, Richard's diplomatic beat. Climbing the narrow, creaky stairs to our pied-
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