Paris Diaries: Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien
It was still dark when I dragged my bags down to the front desk. Nikolae was there-wide eyed and nervous. He asked me if I wanted his email address. It amused me that one night stand etiquette is the same there as it is here. Even though it was pretty clear he was relieved I was leaving, he still had to give me his email...for what? Was he trying not to make me feel like some cheap slut sex poodle? Convince me that the reason he was feeling me up in the conference room the other night is because he wanted a deep and meaningful relationship? He was secretly longing for me to IM him about my thoughts on Proust and Zola?

It never ceases to amaze me that after that men believe, deep in their hearts, that a woman can not just use a man and throw him away with no more emotional engagement than one would feel for a particularly satisfying chocolate bar. Did I enjoy the experience? Sure. Would I do it again? Probably. But that doesn't mean that I care and certainly doesn't mean that I have some fantasy about yet ANOTHER intercontinental romance with this twig of a man. I used to fool around with a guy, a very cute cop actually, who was convinced CONVINCED that I was going to fall in love with him. Not only was it insulting, it was patently ridiculous. The one thing I've never been able to do is fall in love with someone that I couldn't have a serious conversation with. The heart wants what it wants, and my heart wants someone to talk to. My body, on the other hand, is far less exacting in its requirements. In fact, often what my body wants is completely at odds with my heart. I've had good lovers who I couldn't wait to usher out the door because the more they talked, the more I wanted to throw a toaster at them. And I knew that the two of us, although physically attracted to each other, had about as much shared understanding as a spider has of a space station. Finally, one night I told him straight out, "Look,I could never, EVER fall in love with you because the truth is I don't really like you that much."

Still if Nikolae felt the need to go through this pantomime of politesse, I wasn't going to completely shoot him down. I mean, the poor little thing could lose his job over me so I took the card with his private email knowing good and well, I would never use it. It would stay where I put it, where it is right now, tucked into my travel journal, another souvenir, a reminder of a lost world, a bit more pleasurable, but less useful than the Mariage Frere teapot.

The cab, luckily enough, arrived a bit early. Nikolae, however, remained bashfully behind the desk as I blew him a kiss dragging my bags behind me. Soon Paris was flying by me, and even sooner I was comfortably ensconced on the plane contemplating my trip. I never have the trip I expect when I go to Paris. I always discover new places, interesting people, some times I even rediscover people, but most importantly I learn about myself and find something about myself worth loving. I never leave Paris feeling like anything other than a hero. Every trip to Paris, the moment I'm on the plane I think about when I will return. There are other cities I should go to: Tivoli, Venic, Florence, St Petersburg, Athens, Cairo, Edinburgh, but somehow Paris pulls me to her, again and again. There are more things I want to see in Paris, places to visit or revisit, adventures to have, and most importantly wine, chocolate, cheese, and pleasures to sample. Not that I have any regrets, but there is always a reason to return.

On the plane, I realized that its not just Paris. It is, as Rasputin said to me all those years ago before my very first trip, if you open yourself to Paris, she will love you. My trips to Paris are mysterious and unexpected, but always exactly what I need, even if I didn't know that I needed it.

On the plane I know that when I land, when I get home, it is time to get serious about writing, and graduate school. Now there are no distractions, no excuses to focus on anything else.

Except going back to Paris.

Paris Diaries: Inkstained
Instead of the decadent dinner at Au Petit Monsieur, I decided that it was better to play things low key and close to the vest. After all, I had to be up at 3:30 in order to make my flight home. Home. While I had enjoyed a surprisingly wonderful trip, I had reached the point where I wanted to go home. While the trip had been surprisingly enjoyable, I was ready to go home- share stories with Bakerina over wine and food, type up notes before the semester started again. Life in Paris is always precarious (Don't believe me just read some Balzac or Zola, and you will see how one's fortune in Paris can turn on a pin) and although I was in love with the world, especially the corner of it called Paris, I needed a bit of comfort, a bit of rest before I began another three months of attempting to inspire my students to produce something vaguely ressembling anything well written. Still, as I walked into La Mascotte, I thought that as much as I loved New York, as much as I missed my friends, Paris very well might be the city for me.

I sat alone near the back of the restaurant while two waiters alternatively served and pondered me. They were dressed as almost all waiters in Paris are outfitted, starched crisp white shirts, almost floor length aprons, and black trousers. I rather liked both of them for different reasons. There was the pale cute one with dark hair, and the other one, surprisingly with curly ginger colored hair, and a bit of attitude. Gingy was unabashed in his curiousity and satirically critical attitude. He eyed me with condescending amusement, and I found this quality strangely endearing, as he struck me as a perfect representation of how people imagine Parisian waiters.

The Pale Cutey, however, was my primary server. As he leaned over the table to set down my steak au poivre, I noticed that his tattoos, dark, primitive designs more suited to the drummer in a garage band than a neatly attired server, showing through the crisp white of his pressed shirt. It's moments like this, these minor revelations, I live for-the waiter's dichtomous nature revealed-the impeccable shirt with the vulnerability of his tattoos peaking through the fabric. I wondered if this was the reason I so enjoyed inspiring naked desire-in order to see the true nature barely visible from the surface...if what resides beneath surface can be said anymore truthful than any other facet of our personalities.

As I pondered these deeper issues inspired by the glimpse of tattoos, I noticed that my pen had leaked ink all over my hands. I pondered the link now between the waiter and myself-both of us inkstained, although in different ways. My hands are usually inkstained, particularly in Paris. There is no question of what I am here, my chosen profession. I knew that when I got home I had to finish the Paris Diaries, but until then I vowed to remain like Rimbaud-crazy and indulgent-preferring the insanity of fleeting passions to a life of quiet desperation.

As I sat stirring my coffee, I tried to come to terms with the fact in a matter of hours I would be back in NYC. In an abstract sense, knew it to be true, but somehow watching these two waiters snarking at each other in French as they lounged by the kitchen door, it was utterly inconceivable. It was if I had forgotten what New York was really like and all I could imagine was continuing to loiter in museums, exploring sidestreets and open air markets, seducing more paramours, and scribbling my musings and adventures in cafes and restaurants at the end of the day. A life filled with crowded urine smelling subway platforms was actually unimaginable as I sat in that restaurant even though I knew it was only a plane ride away.

I returned to the hotel in enough of a red wine haze that I strolled by Nikolae with barely a wave. He was, as I predicted, nervous and awkward. I wasn't sure why he was nervous-if he was worried I wanted a repeat performance or if he was afraid of rejection, and I didn't really care. He had served his purpose, and I had no secret hopes of running away with the concierge from my hotel. Perhaps that was wrong of me considering how anything is possible in Paris, but I couldn't give up my life in NY just. Besides I had already spent almost a year pining for one Parisian, and I wasn't about to do it again.

Instead I simply smiled and waved at him from the elevator-confident and sensual as ever. As I curled up in that cushy bed for the last time, I knew I would miss the woman I had become in Paris and that I had to dedicate myself to finding a way to keeping that woman alive.

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