Paris Diaries: La Grande Horizontale
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I woke up late in that fluffy comfortable bed. I didn't even bother to get up for breakfast. I figured it was my last day in Paris, I could be as decadent as I want. I was sure there are those of you who think at my age I should stop acting like a 21 year old with impulse control issues. There may be even those of you who think I woke up feeling horrible and dirty and used. Those who think that all my bravado here is covering for some deep shame. I've spent too much of my life living by ridiculous rules, coping with suffering and madness, deprived of what so many others take for granted, to feel guilty about a single moment of pleasure no matter how sordid and vile it may seem to others. I woke up remembering the vow that I took when Eric left-I was going to take every pleasure I could get my hands on for as long as possible. I'll wear glitter and seduce foreign men until the bitter fucking end, and when it's all over I'll become famous writing a memoir about it.

I woke up in love with the world again, and even in love with the decadent whore, la petite coquine, that I am.

I lay under the covers looking out at the Parisian skyline thinking about the kind of damage I could do to Nikolae in this bed with the taste of his skin still in my mouth. How nice it would be to fall asleep in this bed next to him-sweaty and satiated-only to have him waken me hours later for more love making. No foreplay, no pretense, no nervous flirting or phantom conference room lights, just unrestrained passion. I smiled at the very thought of it, and stayed under the covers-warm and snuggle-y a bit longer, unwilling yet to give up my early morning daydream.

Unfortunately, the debauchery of the previous evening had triggered a bit of a relapse of the flu. Rather than head off to St. Eustache, as planned, I thought I needed to start the day off right with a decadent tea at Mariage Frere. I ordered a pot of the Earl Grey Fleur Bleu and the chocolate Tentation-which was the delicate french version of Death by Chocolate. I sat too tired to read or write, pleasantly letting my mind wander, and each time I found my mind meandering in the general direction of Nikolae and the damage I could do to him.

I tried to distract myself by paying attention to the moment I was in. I realized that unlike my previous time in Mariage Frere that the song "Tomorrow" from the musical Annie was playing on the sound system followed by Ethel Merman singing "Everything's Coming Up Roses." I found myself smiling at the musical choices. I finished my tea and decided it was finally time to seize the day-and I began by buying a Mariage Frere white ceramic teapot. It was, by far, the most expensive teapot I've ever considered purchasing. Even now I shudder to think what I spent, but I decided that as a potential "family heirloom" it was worth the expense. I'm not sure to what family I was thinking of as its pretty clear that I'm never going to get married and my cousin who traffics in child pornography-he's probably not going to have any kids either. But I don't think that way in Paris. In Paris, I think it could happen. So I bought the teapot and another tin of decadent tea, this time Earl Grey Fleur Bleu. If it could bring even the ghost of the feeling I had in Paris it would be money well spent.

I did absolutely nothing from the list I wrote at Laduree the previous afternoon. Decided to give the shops at Place des Vosges and St Eustache a miss entirely because IT WAS SALE DAY! Every clothing store in Paris had massive sales, and there were plenty of places for me to put a sizable dent in my bank account right were I was-no metro trip required. So I decided that the Lord meant for me to go shopping near my hotel. I strolled around buying dresses and tops-waiting for fitting rooms along with other french women who chatted animatedly with each other about sizes and colors. And with every store, with every clerk who was rude once they realized my French isn't fluent, with every jostle from a fellow shopper, I fell deeper in love with everything, more convinced that in Paris I am guided by some invisible benevolent force. I was so in love with everything that I had buy another suitcase just to be sure I could take it all home.

I dropped off my armfuls of bags filled with dresses, skirts, sweaters and tops that would inspire men to want to bite through the fabric to get at my lusciousness just in time to capture the sunset at the L'Arc de Triomphe. I tried to save the moment with my digital camera,but I knew nothing could capture the feeling that I had admiring the beauty of world, appreciating the brilliant surprise of it all at that moment.

Napoleon wrote "You shall go home beneath triumphal arches" in 1805. I should have known one short ambitious person would look out for another. If Zola was the strange author of my happiness in May, then Napoleon was in January. My photo card was full and to take the pictures I had to erase the pictures I had taken from my previous trip to Frehel: the view from the Sauvage's apartment, the grassy place we stopped for lunch on the way to Provins, my spot on the bluffs, the French children digging ditches by the sea. I had to erase them all without thinking.

Normally I am a person who holds onto the past. I have, after all, spent an entire year writing about events that are long since over. Normally, I would agonize and fret over deleting these photos, even though they were all downloaded onto my computer. But I gave them up easily. Those times were over-I had to make space for the present, for appreciating the moment I am instead of looking back on a long since dead happiness.

I stood there until the lights on the Champs Elysees were illuminated. I couldn't believe that tomorrow I would be home. I knew I was going to miss Paris, the feeling of love, the sense of interconnectedness as well as the assurance that my timing is brilliant. As I looked down at the Ferris Wheel lit up I knew two things: I will never be done with Paris, and Paris is far from done with me.

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