Into the ghosts of 1968

I’ve never been one to hit the streets with enough guts and grit to throw paving stones and firebombs, overturn cars and land in jail for a night or two.

Not a rebel, about the only thing I ever did to resist the deep-channel path my parents had laid out before me – of course you’ll go on to university - was to say Fuck It one day in Spring 1980, use the money I’d earned over the Winter to buy a backpack, a ticket to London, Let’s Go Europe and a Eurail pass, putting off for the second year in a row a university program I had no interest in continuing.

Arriving home a year later to begin a different program, I soon got restless again and started looking for a way to get back to Europe. Since I was now majoring in French, it made sense to go to France to learn it there for a year.

By the time I arrived in Grenoble in 1982, the flame and fury of the May 1968 Paris riots were already ancient history. Landing in the wrong place at the wrong time, this is about all the mischief in France I ever got up to:

When my wife and I get to Paris in a few days for a week of revisiting old friends, old haunts and old memories, it will be tempting to wander down a street or two which 40 years before was barricaded with burning cars and strewn with debris, but I doubt we’ll actually do so.

Vietnam, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Chicago, Paris, Prague: I started paying attention to the news in 1968 after taking over my brother’s Vancouver Sun paper route. I was amazed to learn how the world outside our quiet, isolated little burg dug out of a corner of a still-undiscovered fjord on the West Coast of Canada could be roiling in such chaos, but I was only eight years old and too young to grasp much of anything, especially why the world was going through what it was.

Just an object of derision to my brothers’ friends, one of whom pointed and laughed at me from the back of a car one day and said: he still thinks his prick’s just for pissing!

Vive la r√©volution? Vive l’amour!

I can’t wait. Did I mention it’s going to be just the two of us?

© 2008 lettershometoyou

7 Responses to “Into the ghosts of 1968”

  1. May 7, 2008 at 6:49 am

    Ah, Paris a deux! What fun. I haven’t been to Paris alone with my husband since 1996. Hope you have a wonderful time.

  2. 2 alwaysthatgirl
    May 7, 2008 at 8:41 am

    Sounds incredibly romantic. Have a great time!! Do the french have something similiar to “eh”? :-)

  3. May 7, 2008 at 11:30 am

    just the two of you huh? what fun!

    great photo by the way

  4. May 7, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    I can top Charlotte – I haven’t been to Paris alone with my husband since 1991! Definitely time to go again.

    Enjoy your little break!

  5. 5 TC
    May 8, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Love the photo! It brought back memories of I-knew-you-then. Have a great time!

  6. May 8, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Trish – yes, you did know me then – even earlier.:-)

    To all: thanks for the bon voyage wishes – we’re really looking forward to swimming in French again.

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The banner photograph shows the town of Britannia Beach, BC, Canada, where I grew up. It's home. But I don't live there anymore.

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