Surviving Versailles, Healing in the Laundromat

November 11, 2914
Robert in Palace
The picture of Robert taken in the Chateau de Versailles shows a person who finds this new experience clearly enjoyable.
Except this is not how I recall Robert’s visit to the Chateau. As we walked from one room to another, surrounded by a huge crowd, I remember Robert repeating, “Airplane, airplane.” or “Applebee’s, Applebee’s”. I interpreted those callings as a wish to return home and to find a good place to eat. Robert, in my opinion, felt overwhelmed by the slowly moving crowd, blocking the most interesting views. He was also very disappointed with French cuisine, that left his food untouched on the plate and his stomach empty.
I have to say, I didn’t expect that reaction. After all, a year or so ago, we visited a few large mansions in Newport, RI and Robert seemed to like those visits a lot. But then, those mansions were not crowded to the point that limited the view. The impression one might form while entering spacious, tall, richly decorated, airy spaces was gone when those spaces were filled with people.
It was hard to direct one’s attention from backs of the people in front to anything in the chambres. But I tried.
-Airplane, airplane.-
-Airplane on Tuesday.-
-Applebee’s, Applebee’s.-
-Applebee’s next week in Boston. We are in Versailles now. We see paintings on the ceiling. Painting on the wall. Huge mirrors. Great chandeliers!
Paintings, chandeliers, mirrors, big windows. What do we see?-
-Paintings, mirrors, lamps- Repeated Robert as I kept pointing.
This sort of a dialogue repeated itself ten or more times with small adjustments taking into account presence of sculptures, canopies over beds and so on.
Only when we stopped to sit on sparsely placed benches by the windows, Robert was able to take a bigger breath and look contemplatively at what was in front of him. So was I and so was Jan. We all kept quiet for a change letting our eyes do the wandering.
As soon as we got up Robert began, “Airplane, airplane.” And I followed until the exit.

We didn’t see everything. I regret that. I do think that despite all his anxiety, Robert deserved to see more. I believe, that under different circumstances he would enjoy and learn a lot more in a calm, relaxed manner so well projected in his picture.

Luckily the following day, we found two important places in the close proximity of our hotel. One was Subway Restaurant where Robert ordered his foot long, toasted, Italian bread with cheese and pepperoni. The other was a laundromat where Robert washed our dirty clothes diligently separating white clothes from dark ones. That was something he was familiar with. From that point on he could stay in France, specially since the hotel had a nice swimming pool too.

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