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paris, before

Thursday, April 30, 2015

paris, before, it vanished without consent,
a happy, sort of sad, youthful lament.

I’m back in Paris – as always, I return so often – and everytime, my mood jumps, hits and lands in a different reflection. This time with the  consistent rain,  my thoughts are as sodden as the streets, a surly sort of nostalgic I can feel in the squelch of my wet feet. You see I miss Paris – but when I return, I don’t feel that calm that comes at the end of an absence. It’s a sentimental sort of longing, not homesick – more…timesick…and one  that dripped right into the sidewalks today and drizzled in puddles that followed me around the city. I found myself in the supermarket I used to frequent everyday, when I lived on a strange street with an almost dead-end at the top – nestled between the Seine and Saint Germain. This store fuelled the booze for my house parties, supplied the hangover breakfast supplies for my friends and I – and it was the place I would absent-mindely wander to for a single orange to eat on the way to the metro.  Haleigh and I would find ourselves in here moments before it closed frantically choosing snacks to see us through a Saturday night – boyfriends and I would huddle together in the cheese aisle in desperate attempts to figure out which French cheese wouldn’t taste like feet for our dinner plans… the lines at checkout were always long, but I was usually always with someone so it didn’t matter – we would stand there and laugh and talk until we had paid. So it was just a supermarket – one little overcrowded store  of a hundred in a chain throughout the city  – but it was so much more than that to me, really. It was the pre-plan and the always-fun after of everything we did. Without that supermarket and the array of cheap wine on offer – I am certain my house parties would have concluded far earlier in the night – and all the time we stood in there bickering lightheartedly about what to buy for a picnic in the summer or a raclette dinner inside on a winter night. And on party nights we’d return 2 or 3 times for wine – restocking as my apartment filled with people and dancing through the aisles as we clumsily filled our arms with bottles.  So, when I walked in there today, I couldn’t find anything I wanted – the entire store had been reconfigured…with new shinier shelving and fancier displays. So there I was,   wandering around a little lost in that same 100 square metres I used to know so well. Returning to previous rituals you since shedded is a strange sensation – and it dawned on me, just as the supermarket had been rearranged and modified – so had I, so had my life. And between looking for evian and the dried cranberries I used to like – I felt sad. Sad in that all of that fun was already had – sad to find myself standing there asking myself, where did my twenties go? And as for Paris, why did we all leave? Life has been jumping and striding forward so fast – I often forget to look back on the Paris of before – and all those little habits we carved out for ourselves in a city we were trying to call home. Those years were electric – dynamic and drunken -and infused with the childish charisma that comes from prioritizing fun.  To have fun, to laugh and to love in that brand new city with late nights along the river or a friday circuit of the same of bars we always went to. How enchanting  and how quickly it all slipped away. And to think that simply stepping into a supermarket for a bottle of water,  brought all this back to me. I returned in a way – confused in those new aisles but remembering how amazing it all was. I will always love Paris for it’s ability to evoke so much from the most mundane,and today that silly supermarket hit me hard. I feel sad and wistful, missing more people than I can count on my fingers and toes. Maturing, grounding and improving ourselves in the silent  ways we do as we inch towards 30 – they are refreshing and reassuring things to feel.  But tonight, I’m saying hi to the Paris of before – and the me of before and all my friends of before – and those days and nights that formed an era of my life that, like the supermarket, reconfigured and vanished in a way I didn’t even notice until today.

Time steals away so slyly, splitting from year to year and it is only suddenly we realize this.  Take heed – and take time, take it carefully – every day forms part of another era and we only get a few in a life-  revisit and reach out to them like you do an old friend. Most of life slips away – days merge into months that are grouped hazily and sloppily into years where  we tend to only remember a few things. Clutter and  be gluttonous with your memories. Curate, collect and celebrate all your befores as you meander on in the now – and keep them close as you push into the future, hold and honour your past  like a vow.  


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