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Saturday, August 27, 2005

love letters

I want to lose myself in the romance of Paris. I want to walk down the Seine, gripping the hand of my lover; I want to dine in a bistro under candlelight; I want to sit in a café in the early morning, writing page after page, stopping only to drink my café crème.

But you can’t rush romance.

I walk the Seine alone, I dine cheaply at home, and I usually sleep in because I hardly rest through the night.

Men in Paris have approached me, but flattered as I’ve been, I have yet to be interested. They’re always too old, too forward or too human. I need to be alone right now, and the idea of another being crawling in bed with me just makes me uncomfortable.

Lonely as I am, I love my own company. Last night I took off to Shakespeare and Company, an English bookstore unlike any other. The store is packed tight with used and new books, crawling all over the place, some organized, some in random disordered piles. Others are hidden in little rooms, with old antique mirrors dangling from the walls. Beds fill odd corners, offering customers a comfy place to read while they sit down.

When one of the workers complained about all the cigarette stubs that seemed to come into the store from outside, another worker answered: “It’s because they grow in Paris, like flowers.”

A thin, awkward set of red stairs lead to the second floor, where all the books are meant to be read at your leisure, but can’t be bought. There are even more beds, as well as a miniscule closet that holds a chair and a typewriter, in case the urge should come. I lay blissfully on a bed reading magazines until midnight when they were closing.

I headed home after some quick exchanges with some Canadian tourists, as well as the man who sells tickets in the metro station, who has become familiar with me after letting Aimee and I pass through without paying the other night. I laugh every time I see him, amused by the fact that he still remembers me.

And when I woke up this morning, I was beaming. Even in my groggy state I felt radiant, happy with myself. I dressed slowly, put my make-up on very lightly, and set off to a market.

In the market my love for food and flavor was revived. Fresh ingredients and the boisterous men that sell them never cease to make me happy.

I bought vegetables from one man, who let me sample a succulent fig and a yellow plum, not forcing me to buy, but letting me enjoy them, telling me I could always consider getting them next time. He told me I could sample anything I liked. “Anything?” I replied, laughing at the thought of me greedily grabbing at the peaches, apples, and everything in sight.

In a small Middle Eastern shop, I stocked up on spices and African ginger tea (which used to be considered as an aphrodisiac).

Walking back to the metro I was followed by a young man with beautiful skin, dark as a night sky. He was persistent to take me out, and I was persistent in saying no. I gave him every excuse in the book and walked faster. When he followed me down into the metro my heart started racing. He passed through the gates before me and then stood waiting for me. I spoke to the cashier about some problems with my ticket, and when I saw him waiting I gave him a frustrated glare and told him to go. He said no and kept waiting. Every alarm in my body went off. I would not let this man follow me home. My intuition told me to run, turn the other way and keep running. Instead of passing through the gates, I headed in the opposite direction, up the stairs back onto the streets. I walked quickly, hoping he had not followed, and went to another metro stop. I didn’t breathe until I was heading home with him nowhere in sight.

I don’t understand the persistence of some men. If I was turned down, I would be shattered, I would walk away silently, my ego bruised. The day I don’t take no as an answer, I’m peaking under my jeans to see if I’ve grown a penis.

Like I said, you can’t force romance.

after sunset
the right side of the street
parisian portrait
to my apartment
market at Place d'Aligre
taking benefit of the family's apartment

4 Comments:

Blogger Haley said...

So true..men are ridiculous sometimes. You'd think getting rejected would make them stop..but it seems to be more of a challenge to them. I LOVE the pictures you posted. Especially the first and of course the last.
Romance comes when you least expect it...

As the world spins, it's the way that life works.

Haley

10:22 AM  
Blogger Lucy said...

hey gilly

i am in prague right now with my cousin, and am also feeling the romantic wave sweep me over...the little jazz bands playing in the streets, and me standing there alone, watching the lovers from afar. it is almost a beautiful melancholy, and i find myself closing my eyes, wishing to be held and loved as well.

i realized though, that this is alright, it is almost a beautiful thing, this quiet loneliness, for our minds are given time to think, and independence grows like never before....

love

lucy

6:13 AM  
Blogger Wenda said...

I am in awe again of how early in life you have found not only your voice, but your ability to reflect, your wisdom.

8:27 PM  
Anonymous Kate said...

I applaud your street smarts and hope you will always be quick-thinking and aggressive in protecting yourself.

3:12 AM  

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