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Saturday, October 15, 2005

they call me anonymous

In cities you’re anonymous.

You’re another body jammed in the metro, another face in the supermarket, another set of legs walking down the street. You can walk for miles before anyone even looks at you.

But these days, there are a few people who know my face. The man who works at the Patisserie gives me a big smile when I enter, his soft face and round cheeks warmer than any other Parisian's. Without asking he wraps up a baguette for me, and we laugh over the fact that he knows my daily routine. The other day I came later, and he told me he’d wondered where I was.

I often cross other au pairs and nannies in the street, and we exchange smiles and a “Bonjour,” our faces now familiar to one another.

The other day I climbed down the steps to the metro in the Latin Quarter, where one of the ticket sellers asked me where I’d been. “I thought you’d changed metro stops, and gone to St.Michel!” I met this man months ago when he let Aimee and I pass through for free, and ever since he’s remembered my face.

But even better than being remembered, is seeing a face you remember well. A friend has arrived in Paris.

Yesterday I climbed up the steps to the Sacre Coeur, the white domed church that overlooks all of Paris, to meet my friend from the South, my favorite waiter, and the brother of my summer love. I couldn’t see him at first, my eyes darting around all the tourists. And all of a sudden he came running at me. “Sorry, I was waiting, and then I had to pee, so I ran all the way down to the bottom and then back up again,” was the first thing he said to me, trying to catch his breath. I love this guy.

We caught up over a glass of white wine, and then took off through the sex shop lined streets that surround the Moulin Rouge. “Should we go see a movie?” I asked, as we passed several XXX cinemas.

On a whim we took off to his aunts apartment, several metros away, and stopped in for a drink. His aunt is an incredible artist. She paints portraits using vivid colors and patterns that bring life to faces and landscapes. Event the coffee table in the sitting room was painted in several colors, with two tubes of paint painted on the surface, so realistic I had to touch. We drank a couple of glasses of Pastis, a liquorish flavored liquor, for an aperitif, and sat comfortably in her bohemian living room. After several games of marbles with her five-year-old son, we thanked her and took off again.

We walked through the bar filled streets that lead to place de la Bastille, where an angel stands lit up on a pillar in the centre, and jumped on another metro.

Dinner was in my favorite Japanese restaurant, hidden in a small street in the Latin Quarter. And after introducing my friend to raw fish, he introduced me to the active cinema that is the Rock Horror Picture Show. I’ve never been to a movie where actors on stage pretend to have an orgy in their underwear.

He slept at my apartment since he’s out in the suburbs, and although we had to share my bed, it was comfortable and easy. This guy’s like an older brother. I even woke up to him smacking my arm then throwing his pillow on my head.

My head is held higher these days. I’ve regained my confidence, and I’m getting comfortable. It’s hard starting out in a new city. Being anonymous. Being invisible. But one day I walked into the Patisserie and the man remembered me. And that's all it took to remember I was somebody.


Blogger baylor said...

You are much more than somebody.

I loved this entry and the memories you are making. Glad your friend is there!

I sometimes wish I was more anonymous. The grass is greener sometimes, yes?

7:39 PM  

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