I still have no voice. This is, probably, my fault. I went to picnic yesterday with friends and I talked for several hours. Well, if you can call a cross between a whisper and a croak, talking. After that, I tried not to talk any more. But it has not gotten better, and I am starting to get a little…. anxious about it.
It is kind if ironic because when I first got here I had all of these fantasies about not being able to speak. What better way to cross the language barrier? if you can’t speak, you can’t speak in ANY language. I’ve traveled miles and sat in a gazillion cafes in various countries without speaking hardly at all, but the difference was, I could have. I think I have learned a valuable lesson here. Watch out what you ask for, cause you could get it. (Actually, this is a lesson that I have learned over and over in my life. But still, I keep asking.)
Also last night, my coughing got so bad that I had one of those “emergency room” moments as in, what if I have to go to the emergency room? This only happens to me when I can’t stop coughing, that I have these inane thoughts. But then I realized that if I went to the doctor here, it would probably cost a fraction of what it would cost me to go to the ER in the states, even though I have paid a gazillion dollars into the health care system there and never even used it. Regardless, I hope this thing goes away, like, tomorrow.
There is also the energy thing. Today I got up and it was another beautiful day. I have lost days to this thing already. So I am thinking that I should GO somewhere, DO something. Like out of my neighborhood, anyway; like besides going to the canal by the Bastille or the Monoprix. But since I caught this thing, I have had this aversion to getting on the metro. I think that is because I am very sure that that is where I got it, last week when I got on and it was so packed, that I could have had sex with eight different people without actually moving my body. I just don’t want to go down there until I am better.
So today then, I got my blanket and my book, and a little pinot noir and some pate de campagne and saltines, and I walked down to the Seine. I crossed to the left bank, because the right bank is in the direct sun, and it was hot. As usual, I sat there for several hours, but did not really read any of my book. I just can’t. There are too many other things to read, mostly, people. There was a large group of twenty somethings just to my left, who brought a plastic kitchen bucket with them. Into the bucket, they poured one of those ginormous bottles of orange fanta, another big bottle of some kind of other soda, three bottles of red wine, a giant can of cubed pineapple, and a liberal helping of sugar (out of a several kilo sized bag.) They opened the wine with a serrated steak knife which they drove down into the cork until it went inside the bottle. I fully expected spattered blood everywhere at any minute, but the wine gods were looking out for them. I did have a corkscrew in my bag, and was going to offer it to them, but was way too worried that they would offer me some of that drink. Sorry, but I just can’t go there and I am way too nice to say no.
As the afternoon progressed the banks started to fill with people. Families, groups, couples, even a couple of singles like me. A boy sat down next to me and though he looked very French he was reading “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” and in fact, was almost done with it. (I am not really sure I made my way to the end of that one; maybe I did.) On the other side, a happening threesome with a fancy bag of sushi. The bag was pink and said “Planet Sushi – Paris. Ibiza. Miami.” Whatever. All they need is “South Coast Plaza” to make that a little more obnoxious.
I had woken up with some feelings. Like, I am here in Paris and I “should be out exploring every nook and cranny, only I can’t! Cause I am weak and have a cough!” You know, all that drama Pisces stuff. But then, after an hour sitting by the Seine, happy in my little world, it occurred to me that THIS is what I wanted all along, all these months leading up to me coming here. I didn’t really WANT to navigate the labyrinth. I just wanted to eat pate and drink wine on the banks of the Seine. I don’t know where that simple fact got away from me for the time that it did. I guess it is like not being able to speak. If you can’t do something, you suddenly feel like you need to do it. But now I realize – I don’t need to do anything except for that which makes me happy. And thankfully it does not take that much to make me happy.
We all watched the many tourist boats go by (and I tried to read, unsuccessfully) and then I looked behind me, I guess at around 5, to an amazing cloud. It was a giant cumulus lit from behind and with a sunburst coming through towards Notre Dame. Zeus laughing. But it was still hot so I didn’t think it was going to, like, do anything. A little later though, the boy next to me, the one reading Dave Eggers, looked up, took an analysis of the sky, put his shoes on and got out of there. Then I heard thunder. Nobody else moved, I didn’t move. We didn’t want to move. But then it started to rain.
At first I, and the collective we, thought we could take it; but it soon became apparent that it was time to move. All of a sudden, raindrops the size of macarons. A summer squall! (Well, not really, because it is not even summer, but I just like to say “a summer squall!”) Many of the people, including the youngsters with the kitchen bucket of extra special punch, moved under the closest bridge. Me, I headed for higher ground, and the nearest cafe.
Lucky for me, there was one right there, and I got under the awning just as the sky was getting really dark and the wind picked up. Where the heck did THIS come from? Out of nowhere, I guess. I ordered a glass of wine with my croaky voice, sitting under a canopy, just out of reach of the raindrops.
The wine was not so good, but the people watching was cool – I could have stayed there, but traffic on the street was not doing my lungs any favors. A really handsome guy that works there came out to serve some coffees to some Germans and smiled at me. He looked like Klaus Maria Brandauer, only way cuter.
But I had to go. So I went in to pay, and the guy smiled again and asked “English?” to which I croaked “yeah, when I can talk.” He laughed and said, “too much partying!” No. “Vacation!” No. Not quite. “Working!” Kind of. “You want another one?” No… it figures that there is a cute guy, maybe even my age, that wants to talk to me, but I can’t. I have a feeling I might have to go back to that place.
I walked back over the river, and the sky was yellow. Yellow! With Notre Dame in the distance.
I can’t stop being enraptured. I am enraptured by everything. I am enraptured by sitting for hours, not speaking, not reading. Just SITTING. Yesterday, at the picnic, Scott asked me what place I love the most, out of all the places I have been. “Here,” I said. Without a moments hesitation. Paris. This is it. The Satellite, that brings me home.