A woman at the café sips a celebratory glass of wine. She finally found the lamp. The last piece to make her living space complete. She thought to go into Jeff de Bruges for chocolate, but Jeff will always be there and she’s still working her way through a Cote d’Or at home.
Being a resident of Paris means not rushing around to buy trinkets. But when I went home to Canada on vacation, that’s just what I did. Crest White Strips, Sharpies, my favorite pens and Advil by the bottle. You can buy Advil here but only in packs of 8. With Christophe’s heavy lifting at work, his recent finger-door slam and my multi-hour urban hikes before the callouses, it seems we were always at the pharmacy.
I walked up Rue Mouffetard for a quick tête-à-tête with Christophe. This is our afternoon conversation. “Tu vas ou?” he asks. Where are you going?
“Le Marais,” I reply.
“Saussisses et choucroute pour diner?” he asks.
A quick kiss and head up the street. I’m not bounding at my usual gait. A combo of legs that haven’t done this uphill walk in awhile and a general ho-hum. I cross to Rue Monge and pass Cardinal Lemoine métro station. I like the name. It reminds me of red birds and lemons, which reminds me of a vintage postcard. I ignore the truth, that the station and street are named after a priest.
I stop at the light and gaze at the flowers at the corner shop. I need to replace the ivy that decided to reincarnate into a household with a greener thumb. The light turns green. I carry on. The rain begins two streets down at the next flower shop. Across the street is Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet church. I love this church for a few reasons. First, it’s lit with chandeliers, which provides a serene glow. Second, the old ladies who sit inside still cover their heads. I don’t know any protocol beyond my own, so I, like the other young ladies, don’t bother covering my scandalous locks. And third, when meditate on the divine inside this church, I feel like I get somewhere fast.
The rain is coming down harder as I stand on the corner deciding whether to buy more geraniums or go into the church. A meth head makes my decision. He helps an old lady up the stairs to the church door, then badgers her for money until she’s safely inside.
I walk on.
I turn at Rue des Bernardins. There is a good Italian restaurant on this street. It’s closed with a sign on the door. I read the sign. They are closed for the month and they wish me a pleasant summer. Many businesses fermé their doors for the month of August. Tourists who come in August are missing most of the show.
I cross over the first bridge and walk behind Notre Dame and her sexy buttresses. The second bridge takes me to the Île Saint-Louis with its long, narrow streets of tourist glee. The third bridge brings me to the Marais. Immediately the vibe turns to a deeper shade of cool. A man walks buy with white earphones dangling from his ears to his pocket, leaving his hands free to play air guitar. A gay couple walk by hand in hand. Their matching T-shirts read, “I need a girlfriend.”
By now the rain is coming at me sideways. My sandals are wet and squishing with every step. I stop at the next light and contort under my parapluie to put my sweater over my dress. I cross the street and arrive at a home decor store and walk in to get out of the rain. There I find the lamp, the final piece. To celebrate, I go to a nearby brasserie for a glass. I order without anxiety and complete comprehension. Success!
Before my glass of red arrives, I give directions to two people. It seems everyone wants a fallafel on Rue de Rosier.
It’s all coming together.
I open my journal to find a source of my melancholy, of my general malaise. As I write it out, I realize it’s not me. It’s the place. It’s the end of August and the new school year is about to begin.
It’s the pause before the push.