Le 30 décembre
I was still awake last night when the fog arrived, thick, heavy, low. Like a cashmere blanket, this morning it hovers still. The roofs are powdered with melancholy, the streets are dusty with introspection. I drink my coffee and smoke my cigarette out the window. In stark contrast, down below the long lines of blue awnings, the markets are alive! It is Friday.
“Profitez! Profitez!” The vendors call. I walk the entire length of stalls on my side of the street, then the opposite length, too, eyeing, deciding what, if anything, I shall buy. On the first round, I buy three pieces of quiche for home. I deposit these in my little fridge, then set out again.
On my second time through, I buy three cashmere shawls, all different styles, one black, one forest green, one dark grey. I chat with Hubert, from whom I bought the third shawl. He is older, maybe my father’s age, maybe older? These are the moments I love. “C’est quoi ton petit accent?” I make him guess. American, English, South American! He tells me I am “charmante” and “Il y a quelque chose dans tes yeux, j’adore.” Oh, the French.
It is too cold to wear the shawls. In my Canada Goose, I get on the metro, en route to I don’t know where. I alight at Gare Saint-Lazare. I walk in search of Galéries Lafayette, a destination that occurred to me on the train. I find it quickly. I look at Longchamps bags and laugh. The one I like is four hundred ninety Euros. It’s funny. I leave. I go for lunch at La Pointe Drouot in the ninth. I have the tartare d’avocats et crevettes comme entrée and the pavé de saumon grillé beurre Maître d’Hôtel. It is delicious and not too much. My new dessert, since becoming pescatarian on the Solstice, is one piece of bread with butter. What a decadent way to end a meal.
I continue to meander, wander, follow my own footsteps. I come across the most interesting little boutique d’obscurités. Bins of plastic hands from hitherto defunct mannequins, corked glass bottles containing statues of Jesus, the humorous and unexpected answer to the classic ship in a bottle. Dishes, thimbles, signs. I carry on.
I go to the little bookstore on rue Tardieu where they have a small section of old books on consignment in the back. This is where I found my beloved book of poems “Toi et moi” by Paul Geraldy, winter of 2012, when I was here. I remember it cost twenty Euros, I debated for a long time, it seemed so expensive, but I had to have it. Thank goodness I bought it! It is still my favourite book of poetry to this day. It so masterfully but humbly takes you through the stages of love, from crush to heartache, with a keen sense of insight and humour, all said so simply, I just love it. Since that great find, I have come back here, again and again, in search of another treasure like this. Nothing has ever come close, though I have bought the odd this or that, half-heartedly. Today I see that the consignment section has moved and is smaller than ever, consisting mostly of old grammar and lesson books. Everything changes. I have changed, Paris has changed. Perhaps I did book this trip a bit prematurely, a bit automatically. I thought I would be working on the final draft of my book, but I finished it well before the trip. I thought my days would be spent working, romantically, engrossed, alone without time to notice. Instead I am wandering around, feeling disconnected from old paths and habits. A couple of friends have suggested that I should just leave. Never! I love Paris. I shan’t end my relationship with it because time goes on and things change. I am receptive to whatever this moment is meant to teach me. I am patient. At least so far.
More left, more right. I take the metro to station Jaurès. I walk up Avenue Jean Jaurès. I am to meet Pierre chez lui around half five. I know this area well, and his, too. I have stayed with him before, plus I helped him move there! I arrive an hour early. I go to MacDo to pass the time, use the Wifi, for nostalgia, I used to start my days here when I stayed with him, and to eat something for the sake of eating something, I’m sure we will have drinks together. I order the Menu McFirst Poisson with Deluxe Potatoes and a Badoit. The sandwich tastes like cardboard. Cardboard will soak up alcohol very well.
I go to TonTon Jaurès and have a glass of red while I wait, he is running a few minutes late. Then, he appears! Hello, my friend. He orders a beer, we chat. He tells me about his recent trip to Cracovie, Pologne with his ex. They were together a year, even lived together for three months. I asked what ended it. He said she swears a lot and likes to sit in front of the television eating. I understand immediately. What I don’t understand is how it lasted a year! I tell him about M—–, that it is new, but that I really like him. He asks what I like about him. His values, his lack of anti-desire for things, his anti-obsession of money. And other things. We go to his house. He gives me a purse I left there a year and a half ago. We have wine. Then the ladies arrive.
Meet Sara, Parisa, and their mother, Roya. “Royale!” I say. They are smiley and sweet. Roya speaks only Farsi, Sara speaks only Farsi and English, and Parisa speaks only Farsi and French. They are ex-flatmates of Pierre who have come to drop off some shopping for Pierre. What fun we have! We chat, we listen to music, we dance, we sing! Pierre may be silly but he is cheery and fun. We open a second bottle. What a fun, special, lovely evening. Pierre drives us all home, me first. And you know what? As I exited the car, something so beautiful happened. Sara called out: “I love you!”
I love you.
Such delicate, delicious, dry wood for my cooling embers. Thank you, Sara!
I love you, too!