Le 27 décembre
The fact of the matter is that it has become so familiar here it barely feels like I’ve gone anywhere. The fact of the matter is that even though it is much milder here, it is still winter, and I am a lover of the Sun, and I need to be somewhere hot right now. The fact of the matter is that I haven’t slept and this cold won’t go away and I’m getting cranky. The fact of the matter is that I booked this trip in September and am I even the same person I was then? The fact of the matter is that I am not willing to spend the money to pick up and go elsewhere. I worked too hard for too many days these past few months to reach financial goals I refuse to reverse. The fact of the matter is that my adversity to planning is a little bit biting me in the ass right now. I knew I wasn’t excited to come, I didn’t even bring running gear or swimwear. The fact of the matter is that what I really need right now is some Nature and not more city! Oh, I will stick it out, I will make it work, I will be fine, I will be more than fine, I will still enjoy myself, and it is likely I will even have some victorious tale to tell, some epiphany, some morale of the story to share. But that is the future and right now I need sleep, convalescence, and some depth to my days. Right now, I’m floundering, going crazy. And the sun won’t rise until 8:43.
Glory be, the markets have arrived! I shower then stand and deliberate for a long time before setting out: to bring my big Canada Goose coat or not. I decide against. I will find and buy some warm shawl, I have a mission, some purpose. The first stall I pass sells…yes…cashmere shawls. Short mission, successful mission. There are three I love. I buy the blond sand brown one. Twenty-nine Euros. The markets are back every Tuesday and Friday. I will visit again.
I alight the metro at Bir-Hakeim. Sure enough, it’s there where I left it, la Tour Eiffel. I go to Firmine to visit C——— but he is not there yet. I ride by Vélibre along, just along, following my front wheel. I end up at the Jardin de Luxembourg. The Sun is shining like an angel. I park my bicycle and just face Her, I light up, too. I feel better, I feel good. I am okay with knowing that I am not having a totally terrific time. Paris has changed and so have I. I don’t want to pretend I am blissful when I am not. It is unhealthy to embrace (and certainly to chase) certain emotions and neglect, deny others. I won’t do it, I am incapable of doing that. All is not good and that is perfectly okay. Permit me, please, to experience and explore my transitional feelings as I continually grow and change as a person. I will not deny any part of me, of the natural intermittent cycle.
I visited A—— at Le Comptoir d’Issy. I had two glasses of wine there. We got along like always, it was nice to see him.
I now find myself at “Au va et vient,” in my quartier, the twelfth. I think I have finally found my happy place. Here they are genuine and smiley and conscientious of giving good service and reply to me in French, all the things lacking in the restaurants and cafés in the tourist areas. I will come back here. I order the bruschetta aux champignons and a glass of the red that the nice waiter recommends. And then another. I type on my laptop, the angst of the morning begins to lift as I realize I just need to avoid the busy, popular parts of Paris.
A gentleman arrives and sits across from me. He becomes engrossed in his book. I admire him. Another gentleman arrives, sits beside me, one seat over, and strikes up some small talk. It is fine, I am happy to speak French. I lie, I tell him I am a music teacher. I don’t know why I lied, I have never lied before. It was a bad choice of a lie as this led him into a mild soliloquy of his long desire to learn an instrument, how he contemplated the saxophone but that is, he sought the right word, too popular, and so he chose the clarinet. He was finished his meal and I was still attempting to finish mine. In peace, might I add. It is not wrong to be friendly and talk, I love it, but also there is body language and social cues. Alas, this is Paris, this is life. As a woman out on my own, it happens often, more so here than home. Even at Sarah Bernhardt, the waiter asked me out for a drink. I told him I would be back to the restaurant soon, knowing now I could never return or it would be read as a vote of interest. Now this man, too, who spoke on and on as I politely smiled and nodded and chewed, finally leaving, after having asked if I live in the neighbourhood, said that perhaps we will see each other again here. Yes, perhaps. But also, fuck off.