Wednesday, July 08, 2015

The city of sorrows and living

Paris. It's one of the few places in the world I return to. This is my fourth time.

I love Paris. People ask me why, but it's for personal reasons that would be meaningless to anyone else. It was here where I had my heart, for the first time, truly broken. I was stood up on the Pont des Arts, the romantic pedestrian bridge which today is literally strained by that recent and tawdry phenomenon of love-locks. I sat in the Place des Vosges, sobbing a spectacle as I wrote a goodbye letter to the girl I loved.

Paris was cold. It was February and there was fog along the Seine. I was 26, I wore a second-hand woollen trench coat that the moths had started on, a narrow pin-stripe suit I found at the Salvation Army, and a new fedora I'd splashed out on.

My room was a crooked and peeling late night desperation at the top of five flights of dark, winding stairs. I was barked out of it in the morning in a language I commanded only in fragments, for using the shower, I think, without paying the extra francs.

I checked into the hostel on Rue des Bernardins under an assumed name instead and met a Dane who gave me ten francs on my last day there because I hadn't eaten in two days. I devoured bread and cheese gratefully, and cured it to something concrete with liquid yoghurt.

I played chess in the Jardins des Luxembourg. I eschewed the Eiffel Tower and wandered the lanes of the Quartier Latin. I shared strawberries with a stranger on a park bench and was invited to her house for coffee, where she practised her English discussing the recent election of a socialist parliament in France.

Today the thing I look forward to the most is tomorrow—breakfast of croissant, baguette, cafe au lait and jus d'orange at a table I shall own for hours.

It is the living here. The French live for now and eternity. They embrace artists, musicians and writers. What is the point of struggling every day like a rat treading water so you can one day enjoy your life? It is already here! And struggles will always come with it.

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