There She Is!

by

He said to me, and busked both my cheeks.

“I thought you had already gone,” he said and pulled back to look at me with big brown eyes and a wry smile.

“Not yet,” I smiled back, “soon.”

I will miss this kissing of cheeks, somehow more sweet and familiar than just a hug, although I still do give a great hug.

There is an intimacy in the cheek busk, a letting in of a person to your vulnerable self, a letting down of guard.

At least for me.

I will miss much about Paris, the wonderful new friends, the robin’s egg blue brushed sky with the pillows of clouds, when it is sunny, which it was today.

Rain forecast for tomorrow and for the weekend, cooling back off, this false come hither, go yon Spring, turning fickle once more and chill.

I will not however, miss the crowds.

Tourist season is in full swing and I was in amongst it a few times today.  Down in the 4th–the Latin Quarter–a quick nip into the Marais, and a walk about the Seine through the bookseller stalls.  I had come into town from Vitry-Sur-Seine to wrap up some things at the house before I head out to Chambourcy for the weekend to housesit and walk Rusty the dog.

Or course it will be raining.

Oh well, at least it shouldn’t be snowing, like it did over Easter weekend.

A rainy walk through the woods is not necessarily a bad thing and the trees should be blooming and the grass will be green and the flowers will be pushing their bright faces out at me.

I was thinking of the white French tulips I saw today on the edge of the Marais in a small, hidden courtyard–the soft fluted petals flared out nodding heavy on the waxy green stems, the breeze rifled through and I felt his kiss on my forehead and knew he was with me in that moment.

I was thinking of Shadrach.

I was thinking he would be proud of me.

I breathed in the air and the sun and the warmth that ricocheted off the walls of the church in front of me and I said thank you to the Universe, to love, to being taken care of, to the host of people he introduced me to.

I looked at the tattoo I have on my arm in commemoration of him, “until I die, he will not leave my side,” the last line of the eulogy Dylan Thomas wrote for his father, underscored with sky blue ink and curled around the green stems of two white French tulips, and I compared the tulips to the flowers in front of me.

They were one and the same.

I never actually thought I would be in Paris looking at white French tulips and have my entire last 8 years flash before my eyes and the wash of gratitude that flushed over me was almost more than I could bear.  “Not yet,” I am not ready yet,” I remember thinking this once when another such feeling came over me, there is still too much for me to experience and to have, to learn, and to grow.

“You’re not going to relapse,” he said to me, “please, Martines, you are going to be around a long time to annoy the hell out of people who don’t have the kind of faith you have.”

“Shut up!” I said, despondent and annoyed, I wanted to have my pity party and he was not having any of it.

“Your faith,” he paused and looked at me over the top rim of his glasses, usually a twinkle, a sassy mischievous kind of glance, this time tempered with something akin to wonder, “frankly, lady, it scares me sometimes, you walk this razor’s edge of trust and you just keep going, it’s a little intimidating to the average bear.”

I pushed him, put I was pleased.

I do have a kind of faith, in showing up, mostly, that I still find to be a kind of miracle.

I showed up today, despite not wanting to leave the house.

Yes, the day was sunny and warm and bright and I could feel the call of the outdoors, but leaving would mean saying good-bye, to Paris, to people who I have just begun to get to know.  There is no begrudging ego in the way either, which is a relief, just that sad well of feelings that I will miss some of these faces I have just begun to know.  And there is the preparing to leave part that is always a little anxiety inducing.

They say, who they is, fuck if I know, but it feels right, that moving is the most stressful thing that a person can do.

I must handle stress damn well as I move a lot.

I would like to not actually have this stress for a bit.

I am, however, good at getting my shit together and bundling up the stray ends.

When I got over to 36 Rue Bellefond today, yes I managed to get my bottom out of Vitry-sur-Seine, onto the RER C train, transferring to Metro 10 at Gare d’Austerlitz, then again at Jussieu onto Line 7, I was only going to pop in and gather a few things that I needed to return to folks.  I thought I would sit down for a minute, have a cup of tea, heat up some lunch, and then be on my way.

But as I started to move about the house I realized that I could just pack it all up.

So, I did.

The only thing really left to do is break down my bike and put it in the bike box.

I was able to sort through my things, throwing out two pieces of clothing that had gotten shredded with frequent wear, an old pair of socks, and a few bits and pieces of collage art I had put up on the wall.

I put aside the outfit I will wear to the airport and I packed my suitcase full.  My life, once again, reduced down to a roll on suitcase and a messenger bag.

My life expanding into the ever-increasing cosmos of love.

I walked the streets of Paris today and took photographs and meandered in and out of shops on Ile Saint Louis, then over toward the Marais, where I saw the tulips, and then onto Hotel de Ville, where I saw the Couture Exhibit.  It was empty, everyone was outside enjoying the weather.  I looked at the gowns and the designers and I got fevered with fashion, I saw a Rochas from 1938 that made me swoon.

I went back out into the light and headed to the Metro, navigating my way through Chatelet and Les Halles without much thought, I knew where I was going and I circumnavigated the clumps of tourists peering at maps with stern scared looks on their faces.

I am not an old pro at Paris, but I know the city enough to get about, and as I strolled up the Champs Elysees and headed toward Rue Vacquerie, I remembered how overwhelmed I was when I first landed here and how scared I was.

Today, the fear, nibbled on my collarbones and tried to get me to stay put, but I have always learned that the majority of the work is to just show up.

Show up I did.

One more day in Paris.

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