I awake at six, how splendidly spoiled it feels to nuzzle into the last dusty corners of sleepiness, bundled in big blankets, able to choose more sleep, no alarms, no appointments. After ten, I rise, I shower, I dress, I heat and eat a piece of quiche, I leave, who knows where to…
I alight at station Saint-Germain-des-Près, another last-minute decision. Maybe I will go to Les Deux Magots? It is right there when I get to street level, so I do.
Today is a day for eating meat, bidding it farewell. For now, for the most part. I order the steak tartare and a glass of Bordeaux-Supérieure. I sit, it’s a long time, I savour. I feel the wine sweetly seep lightly linger so slowly, through me, over me. I haven’t eaten meat since the Solstice, it is the official date. But. There will always be the odd exception. I am in Paris. It is Le Réveillon. It shall be marked with savoury blood. It is what I planned.
I walk along Boulevard de Saint Germain, past the Christmas stalls, filled and pretty with cheeses or soaps from Marseille or scarves or Matryoshka dolls. On Rue des Écoles, I go to OCD. I spend a lot of time selecting, but I am tormented with buyers’ guilt before I even spend a penny. In the end, I buy two French films, one new, one old: “Un homme sans l’occident” from 2002 and “Je t’aime moi non plus,” a film from Serge Gainsbourg, 1975. I think of this past summer, how wonderful it felt to buy nothing. Reconciliation, reconciliation, where art thou?
Finally, I have been dreaming of it, I go to Shakespeare and Company. Oh, look. There is now a “Shakespeare and Company Café” attached. For some reason, I instantly hate it. Without conscience, I decide it is indicative of commercialism and profitability and exploitation of a sacred past and a molestation and mitigation of a mellow melancholy, now chaotic. I buy myself two books, one for K——, and this interesting paper pouch containing two mystery poems for M—–. The books jumped out at me, as did the gifts. I love when gifts happen organically like this, it’s the only kind of gift I like to buy, not anything and always and something for the sake of something and not something you have to deliberate over and are unsure about. The gift tells you, it’s just perfect.
I walk over to Le Petit Pont, my old haunt, though it is all new staff, no face to recognize, nobody to recognize mine. Or so I think. My waiter gives me a strange look and asks if I have been here before. I tell him not since April, and before that, not since the previous summer. He is sure he recognizes me, much to my delight. He is very good to me my entire visit. He brings me a complimentary glass of champagne. When my phone will not connect to the Internet, he shares his phone’s connection with me and leaves it with me so that the connection won’t drop out. I order six escargots, it is part of the exit parade I am holding for meat today.
I take the bus home which is fun, and something I would say most tourists don’t do. One summer, B——- told me how he loved to take the bus and I thought that was a funny thing to say. But now I understand completely. So much better than being underground, a nice little cruise through the city. He opened my eyes to this simple pleasure.
Au Va et Vient is already closing up for the night. I go to Au Métro. Time for the third and final stage of meat’s parting procession. I order the cheeseburger, blue. With salad instead of fries. It is not rare at all, it is raw, red, bulbous grinder worms, shiny and gleaming. It melts in my mouth. It is divine. It is falling apart, dripping blood down my hands. Salacious.
I return early to my little thirteen meters squared piece of Paris. It is only after six. I am invited to C———‘s where he and his daughter L– and also A—— will ring in the new year. I just don’t give a shit about New Year’s Eve. I don’t want to spend the night drinking. I don’t want to wake up with a hangover. Plus, C——— lives in Sèvres, it’s so far.
Bonne année, tout le monde. Fais de beaux rêves.