I was anxious for yesterday to begin. A calm recollection of breakfast, led to a swift walk to the metro. I needed to get into the city as soon as possible. Emilie lives on the same line that I used to 6 years ago, yet on the complete other side of town. She in Creteil, I in Commerce. The train ride proved to be a bit unnerving, not knowing if I'd be able to find my old street, Rue Mademoiselle with ease, or if my memory would prove defunct.
Seamless. I got out at Commerce, spotted the park I celebrated a July 4th, 6 years ago, turned around and she was in the same place, Sephora. Smiles. The women know that it is indeed a landmark, especially when you arrive on the first day of SOLDES in all of Paris. One street down I spotted it. The street sign for 'Rue de Madamoiselle'. An old home, anew. I walked right up to the door and wished with every ounce of being that I remembered the passcode to get inside. Brittany's flat was nothing to brag about, except of course it was in Paris and about 15 minutes walk from the Eiffel Tower. That's about as humble as it got. My 5'9 frame, and her barely 5' frame shared not only a flat, but a bed for 6 weeks, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.
Strolling, I came across Rue Leon Lhermitte, the park. Many people in the Tribe, and on the internet, have seen my weightloss photos, particularly from when I was 210 pounds. Well this country, city, and park were where I lost the first fifteen pounds of that now fifty pound weightloss. To kill time while waiting for Bayyina, Smitty, and Kim I decided to relax in the park and just soak in the old neighborhood. Kids playing, picnics happening, lovers seeping sex while laying atop one another on the grass. I loved every ounce of it, and it fueled my jet lag dreams. I fell asleep in the park to the sounds of a guitar player and a fountain. Alone in serenity.
Hours had passed, impatience arisen, and the Starbucks Chai Latte began to kick in. I was ready to take on the rest of the city on my own. Next stop, Monmarte. Specifically, I made it to Lamark-Caulincort to visit my old school...the program that brought me to this country in the first place, 'La Femis' film school. Here I studied film through a program with the New York Film Academy and it's where I met people in the Tribe I am still close friends with, Abi and Thomas for starters. This place was a haven for my creativity. I was a young graduate, virgin to the post-graduate life and while others were back in the States working, I was in Paris creating. Best decision I ever made in my life. I brought my old ID with me, just in case I got stopped. Secretly hoping Elodie remembered me and ushered open the doors, but it didn't go down like that. I just...stood there. Smiling ear to ear. Thinking about the young lady I was at 22, and the woman I am now at 28. A full on metamorphasis has occurred, and I thank this very establishment as the catalyst for that in my life. Journeying around the hills and staircases I followed old routes that we filmed in on weekends. I realized, I miss this time. Froggy's is gone and replaced by a posh cafe/restaurant. Yet, I'll never forget what was once there, and that in France I had the best mojito of my life.
It was approaching sundown and I was already in the area, I had to get to Sacre Coerc. I'm not religious, but I remember having a very real experience when I first stepped foot in this cathedral. It's a lot to take in. Walking the perimeter in silence, I lit a candle for Rudi. Remembering how when I was here last, he was so anxious I'd never go home and a relationship would never be possible. He was silly like that. Now, I'm here years later, and I can only call him silly in my mind. I hope he saw me yesterday and understands the significance.
The energy, the people, the music, the calm that rises from the hill in front of the cathedral is enough to silence you. You have no choice but to breathe in the ambiance, and look out over the entire skyline of Paris as you do so.
A drink was in store, and so was a bathroom. I ended up at an Irish Bar (the many there are in this city) along the edge of Sacre Coerc, enjoying a Magners. As the buzz hit, I heard 'Caraciture Miss?! Belle. So beautiful.'
'No problem. No work today really. Do you mind if I sit with you?'
Over my Magners, and his espresso I found out he was Algerian and been living in France for the last 22 years. Josef was a character just as those he sketched, and he knew it. I laughed long and hard with this man, and got all the vendor gossip that ones ears could handle. From the capoeria performers from Brazil, to the owners of tourist shops, he had the goods on everyone. We spoke about the racism he feels exists in Paris, and how overpriced living is here. He admired my emphasis on career before marriage, and deemed my boyfriend a very lucky man. Though I wasn't paying 15 euro for a cartoon sketch of myself, I had no problem secretly picking up the tab for his drink.
Walking along the curve, another gentleman I'd briefly seen on the way up, locked eyes again. You have to see the photo below to understand why I say' locked'.
'You have beautiful eyes,' I ushered out as I sped past him.
'Thank you. And you are very beautiful, wait. Please I would like to show you my work.'
Enriq. I am spoken for, so I will offer directions to exactly where he posts up by Sacre Coerc, to any woman interested in the Tribe. lol. In all seriousness, he's lovely and quite generous. Over thirty minutes of conversation, I was gifted with a ring that he handmade out of metal. He designed intricate metal pieces that stand as mini-statues, specifically instruments. His work is quite impressive. Seeing as his origins are moreso from the South American regions, he has a particularly interesting view on being a Black man living in Paris. Twenty- six years old, every bit the artist, and I'd say quite lived for his age.
a Paris afternoon...