Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I went to France, once. (I took this picture there.) For a brief moment, I was a world traveler, traipsing through the streets of Paris covered in rain and layers of mismatched fabric. Strolling casually without direction in and out of the alleyways of Dijon. I rode trains on the weekends and slept in hostels on thin foam mattresses. Took luke-warm showers and dried my wet body off with the t-shirt I'd just slept in. Everything was simple. Getting up at 8 a.m. after a late night out was just another part of the fluid motion of my days there--long and lazy, beginning each morning with a cup of scalding Darjeeling tea.
There was an energy there, a magic there that scooped each of us out of our insides and left us cold and huddled together on street corners like rounded balls of glacee in a cone. Neopolitan flavored, full of color and life and too much sugar. We gorged on les baguettes et les pains au chocolat. We never felt guilty for all the things we ate. All the deserts. We shook our hips and moved to the rhythm of drum circles late into the night--refusing to stop when they would flash the lights on and off. Refusing to go home, instead chanting slured renditions of "je suis une artiste!" Refusing to remember when the buses stopped running, having to walk the miles and miles home on many late nights--two hazy silhouettes swaying silently together down a cobblestone street.
We spoke le francais with impeccable accents--some better than others. We wore sunglasses on sunny, hungover mornings to streetside cafes. We opened our eyes wide and saw each other. Sometimes we cried. We met in parks and chased pidgeons and told each other secrets. We sang "The Seed" by The Roots with dance moves to go along, and laid in the dark on our backs wishing that we would all still be there when the lights came back on. We ate strawberries and made plans to return, and then never to leave.
But then. We packed our bags and scrambled to find souvenirs for everyone we would return to in the states. We were quiet and distant from each other--preparing to detach after all of our weeks of intermingling. We became separate, single despite the stories we shared, the jokes we still laughed about--now alone in our varying ticket lines.
I still speak to myself in french a lot. I forget the things I saw, and then they come back to me in flashes so striking, causing my brain to derail on account of its forgetfulness. Now that you remember, don't forget, I tell myself. But I know I will, there's no stopping it. Like a long stream of melted ice cream slipping down your arm to your elbow, when there is nothing you can do but let it drip, dropping to the sidewalk below. Small globs of forgotten sweetness trailing behind you as you make your way alone into another cold night.