Last Tango in Paris
After the Louvre and the dismal dinner chatting with a lone English girl who had absolutely nothing to say, I went home and tore my hotel room apart searching for Henri's number to no avail. I barely HAD anything, how could I lose it? Of course, it was just a little scrap of paper and like so many little scraps of paper with important information-directions for difusing nuclear weapons, the address of Belomondo, how to make abba zabbas-it was somehow lost.
But it seemed when we went to the cafe in the morning that the people there knew him, and even if he wasn't there that I could leave him a note. So the plan become to briefly walk by the cafe and ask about Henri. If there was no word, I would simply go on a moonlight cruise on the Seine, get some sleep, and take my ass home.
On one hand, I really wanted to stay. For the loneliness I started to feel and the crying desire to be able to speak to people without having to think for five minutes before every sentence did not out weigh that I was actually happier in Paris. I didn't think of Eric, and for the first time in three years I didn't think about how much better things would have been if he was around. I didn't cry for eight days, which may not seem like a big deal to others, but to me it was a milestone.
Still, my ankle was not improving. It wasn't getting worse, but it wasn't improving. In order for it to heal I suspected I would be on bed rest. Well, if I had to lay in a bed it might as well be a bed in the US. If I stayed in Paris, I wouldn't want to rest, I would want to hobble around and exacerbate my condition and end up talking to le docteur in a hospital explaining why I was being such a jackass walking around on an injured foot.
On the other hand, there was the loneliness, not for romance, but to talk to my friends, to share with them what I had seen, to tell my mother about the impressionists at the D'orsay ( she would love it), and caffienatrix about the coffee, and UDR about the men. I wanted to be able to speak without thinking. Oh how much sympathy did I have for my students in those final days in Paris! To be able to chat amiably without every comment being the struggle for life itself.
So I decided not to extend my stay because of the foot. I was worried, more worried than I care to admit. But fear hadn't stopped me so far, pain and the threat of permanent injury however are complete different. Having just recovered from bursitis and tendonitis this summer, I had no wish to compound my injuries.
Everything in Paris seemed surreal. From the first day to that last, I would wake up in the morning with the sound of mopeds outside, the cool Paris air blowing in my window and I would think, "This is just unreal." I'm not sure what about it made it seem unreal, but it had a dream quality to-like an august strindberg play (Dream Play perhaps? or was that Ibsen?). In the night, I wake up out of a sound sleep and see the full moon out my window. There are two clouds in the sky. The moon is brighter and larger than I've ever seen it, and the clouds picked up some of the luminescence. You can't buy symbolic content like that. You have to be a witness to it. All I could think was, "How can I leave? How can I live in NYC after this? Knowing it's all right here?"
I decide my last day is dedicated to shopping. Aside for a few things I bought for my mother, I had nothing for other people. I knew where I wanted to go. I got up late and decided to casually walk by the cafe where Henri took me. As I walked I thought, "What if he is there, but not happy to see me?" I decided to walk by and be casual. If he doesn't want to see me, well I'll just go to the metro.
I see him through the glass of the cafe. His eyes light up and comes to the door and hugs me. I explain in my broken french that I lost his number. We sit and chat for a bit, he gives me a number. He asks me what I would like to drink and I say "I'll have what you're having." Apparently he was having a kir royal for breakfast. Hey, why not? It's my last day. So I have a kir royal and we agree to meet at 6 that night. Which gives me basically five hours to shop and get back to my room to shower and pack. I rush out onto the street and head directly St. Michel where I buy clothes for myself, a few shot glasses for friends (I would never buy shot glasses, but they were specifically requested-the guy threw in a free tour eiffel keychain though-interesting since I didn't actually GO to the tour eiffel), chocolate for my mother and friends, 3 bottles wine for myself (at nicolas-one bottle for my birthday), and other odds and ends for friends. Also I buy a rolling backpack to put all my purchases in as I don't have a suitcase.
In the afternoon, I return to the Clou de Paris, although the food is better elsewhere the waiters are attractive and conversational. Rafique is happy to see me. I sit and read my Adam Gopnik book while having goat cheese and wine. I chat with one of the other waiters, a tall dark skinned waiter who was still in shock over the price of houses in the south of france. He was born, apparently, in the North where houses are cheap. His family lives there, but he wants to move them to the south. He kept walking by and telling me the price in Euros for various houses in france and then shaking his head. He had the same expression as many NYC apartment shoppers, the "They want how much for that?!" look. Rafique wants to rendez vous with me after he gets off of work at one am. I figure things don't work out with Henri, it's good to have a back up plan.
I get home and pack my belongs, which in a week have accumulated to: 3 bottles of perfume ( plus samples), 3 pairs of panties ( I would wash them in the sink every night and put them on the windowsill to dry), 2 tunic tops, two sweaters, two skirts, a long sleeved top, 3 bottles of wine, 3 books on art from the d'orsay, some chocolate, half a loaf of good french bread, and what I had when I arrived-my cd walkman, the gopnik book, my journal and of course id and wallet. The bag just fits all of these items. I showered put on one of my new tunic tops and sprayed myself with a sample ( Tsar by Van Cleef and Arpels) and went off to meet Henri.

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