Day three of being sick and the only thing I want to do is stay in bed all day. Luckily I had committed to coffee with Kristin.. I piled out of bed and quickly threw myself together.
When I’m in Paris it’s always conversations of - What I am doing here, what visa I have, what visa you have, how much French I don’t know.. the conversations go round and round and then we sit or stand there idly drinking whatever beverage we’ve paid too much for.
He messaged me on whatsapp and asked how my weekend was. Followed with an invitation to coffee that evening. He used the words “honey” and “really enjoyed my time with you”.
The metro seemed to take forever.. one of those mornings when things are delayed for who knows what. I arrived 20 mins past the agreed time and a small moment of panic hit me thinking she may have left.
In Paris you are always meeting new people. These friends, their friends, colleagues, “oh my friend is in Paris you should meet…”.. Pretty soon you have your CV summation ready in a quick 20 word format.
I agreed to meet even though I was sick. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to see him again. Sure I had fun. But .. but. Things I didn’t and did like. His candidness. His candidness. At least he was consistent to the very end.
We both exclaimed air and relief upon seeing each other. We had both been late and she arrived just 5 mins before me. I ordered a cappuccino and the granola being as I had hardly been awake for more than an hour at this point. She was wearing her usual hipster inspired black and even though she exclaimed to have come from the boyfriends place across town , seemed just as put together as when I saw her last night.
I love meeting new people. I know what when you meet someone you are really just scratching the surface. I really prefer to have more time with people. I want to know who they really are. But other people aren’t really into displaying themselves right away. .. or even later. Not everyone is a bleeding heart like I am.
Midday I had a thought to cancel. Why am I seeing this guy before I go? Do I really want to give him anymore of my time? For what? My hours in Paris are precious and I don’t want to waste them on a sentence that doesn’t contribute to the story. True to Parisian fashion I was 20 mins late. I saw him near the café.. looking around, looking at his phone.. I was crossing the street and he started walking away. I thought maybe he was just going to put his helmet on his vespa, but then I realized he was walking AWAY and when I glanced at my phone I realized I was in fact 30 mins late. I burst into a sprint to catch him..
Our coffees arrived in vintage porcelain teacup complete with the saucer. The floral leaves of the foam promised that the trek had been worth it. Bare bulbs, vintage furniture and cozy couches. SF/NYC/Paris. They are all the same after all. I can find my home wherever I am in the world.
When you are gone so much it is easy for people to forget about you. They may not want to.. but it just happens. Cv’s are only so interesting, memories made only warm you for so long, every one moves forward. Not always at the same pace.
We sat down. We talked about our separate weekends. He gave me more of the same sarcasm/insecurity and consternating honesty that makes me as myself ” why is he saying that”? I wasn’t looking for affirmation, or French lessons via skype, or even the promise of seeing him again when I return. He even throws in a “I’ve never been to SF..”. I smile. A smile of “sure!, if you like..” follow by a shrug of the shoulders. Because I’m done having expectations. I’m almost mystified. I mean, I enjoyed our conversations, I find him attractive, we have things in common.. but I am not giggly about him. In fact, he said.. “ I will not seduce you or romanticize what this is. I respect you to much to lead you on”. Who says these things? But I guess even that bold awkward honesty was in itself charming. So I sat there longer intrigued by it all.
As we sipped out of our china she smoothed her platinum blond hair and told her story.. the same/ but so different to mine. Religious, married young, divorced and figuring life out as a child thrown into an adult dating world in our late 20’s. She bought books, I chose experience as my teacher. I was at peace with my religion. She, at peace with relationships. We both marveled at the other’s. I don’t know that we would ever be close friends. (But do we ever really chose those people?) I know we have shared so much already. At this point a wink, a pat of the arm and a shared cup of coffee on a gray day in Paris is all that is needed more.
He made a joke.. and then kissed me on the cheek. It’s easy to do that when your seats are literally side by side. He smokes through the pack non stop. He makes comments of quitting all the time. For me? Or for himself? He told his mom he met an American. He tells me He likes the way I think. He gets a text message, It’s from his best friend Victoria whom he is having dinner with that evening. “She’s my best friend “ he says. Hm.
He asks if I’m going to run while i’m in SF. I said yes.. he said that’s good, because my hips could use it.
Last days in Paris are always the same. One part panic, one part stress, one part “just fuck it all”. I remember all the things I wanted to do/ needed to do/ bummed I didn’t think to do. I do what I can, see what I can, eat what I can. And try to be present for each one. What else can you do?
I got a French phone number. Only took me two years.