We will have to jump to this point in the story of my life, and I hope it can be a prelude to a coming piece.
I had spent too much time in Paris. I arrived, met a friend and another, left quickly to celebrate Queen’s Day in Amsterdam, then returned to bid my friends farewell and get to know the Romantic Capital on my own. I believe I spent 3 weekends there, but time got to all sides of me and I’m not really sure how long that particular dream lasted. I remember one great night, right after I arrived back from Amsterdam.
I’m at my hostel bar alone. People make me nervous, but I know the workers and they give me specials on drinks, which lends me intrigue. Tip: Always befriend the workers.
There is a blonde girl talking to an older australian boy behind me. I interject and introduce myself. We all drink for half an hour or so and then somehow the Australian is ousted and this lovely Swedish girl who had just spent 3 months working at a hostel in Barcelona, is asking me to take her out that night, me in my black t-shirt with a pocket, tight grey pants and black flip-flops. Her in a green dress that clashed against her blue eyes and a small coat. We go to my favorite bar area, Bastille, and it is uneventful. A bar tender pours liquor all over the bar and sets it on fire. We warm ourselves beside it and head back out. A French man comes up and introduces himself to us, and he is outraged to find me wearing flip flops. Such disrespect! And with such a pretty woman. If there was one conversation I wish I could have recorded, it was this one. I try to explain, “I must wear them, I have an infected wound on my foot from a skating accident in Thailand (great to say) and shoes pain me so!” But he can only reply, “no, no, no, I don’t know how you do in your country but this is Paris! You must respect the city, you must respect your female friend. Why would she want to go out with someone disgusting like you!? It is pitiful. I do not understand.”
He repeats himself, in nicer language than I credit to him, for around 10 minutes. We excuse ourselves. It is 2 a.m. and we are low on money and we want to go out in a better area. We get in a cab and go home and then I see my friend, a Hostel worker, and he tells me the absolute place to be is an Irish bar in Montmartre. My swedish friend wants to get drunk. We get in another cab at 2:30 and go all the way to the north of the city, find the bar, stumble in, and we find all of my friends who work at the hostel.
I buy a drink, a long island without any coke in it. I spend 15 minutes quaffing this, sharing with the swedish girl, and reveling in the unexpected appearance of almost everyone I know in Paris.
The bar has to close, and the dreadlocked hostel worker tells us to follow him, he knows a place where we can keep drinking. While we are walking, the little French bartender from my hostel steals me from my Swedish friend. I always smile at her at breakfast but she always looks away quickly, I had surmised that she didn’t notice me. Someone told me earlier that she is unofficially dating the muscular Romanian bartender. He’s intimidating but for some reason seemed to be the most likely to sell me a cheap drink.
So she comes up and grabs me, I never knew her name, and she takes me in an alleyway and begins kissing me. She kisses me for a two minute eternity. Then she shushes me and pushes me back out to find my friend.
So we end up at an apartment building, and the dreadlocked boy climbs a fence, lets us in. Breaks open a door, lets us in. Shushes us as we walk up two flights of stairs, and then he pushes open a door to a barren and unfurnished three bedroom apartment, disappears in the kitchen, and comes back with two bottles of vodka. I take several swigs while eying the cute french girl, while failing to realize that a beautiful swedish girl would like to be kissing me as well. How terrible the clarity of hindsight is.
We all stay up drinking and talking until the sun comes up. I, happily, can not recall a single word that was said. Two girls from Alabama took it upon themselves to bring me home, and I decide the pinnacle of a good night is not having to take a cab home. We hop on the metro, I tell them about how I must be in love, and they assure me they’ve gotten me out of trouble. Romania no longer sells me cheap drinks, and the french girls’ stare lingers at breakfast.
Paris was good to me, but I had to go. I packed my bag, walked the 10 minutes to the metro, and took it to Gare du Nord. I bought a train ticket for 80 euro and in moments I was seated on the train, nothing in my stomach but some pan du chocolate and an orangina. I dreamily watched the other passengers-Observations on a Train.
Every time the boy rides the train, his chair will be just a bit smaller, his view out the window a bit better. He’s too caught up in the excitement of the world and his new ability to speak and to count and to perceive to notice. His mother is too caught up in trying to make him eat and nap. She exasperatingly fails to notice. But I am listlessly observing, book on my lap, remembering the days when, at half my current size, my house was a cavern and adults were odd-intentioned giants. Savor childhood. It may not last.