A notebook entry.
This essay was written as part of Project 1,825 Things.
The rain today, and a change in the way the air smelled. Something I can’t quite name. Smack in the middle of January and already the hint of things to come. Frangipane king cakes in all the bakeries, and yellow mimosa in the flower shops.
I think I’ll go somewhere, maybe Seville. What is it like there at this time of year? When do the trees blossom? When does the fruit appear? Is there fruit? Are there really orange trees in the city streets? Do the alleyways flicker with torchlight? Are there castanets? Will the past be there? Where is Alicante, that place from a poem I read in my high school French class? “Une orange sur la table, ta robe sur le tapis?” Valencia? Maybe I’ll go there.
Out in the night air, the dark evening, colder than before but still relatively warm, still well above freezing. There were swans bathing and preening in the shallow water of the stone ramp near the Pont des Arts. I didn’t understand what I was seeing at first, there in the dark, their white bodies twisting in ways that my brain couldn’t categorize. Strange creatures at the water’s edge, becoming something other than what they are. No wonder Leda was confused.
I remember falling in love with a girl in Paris once. I was eighteen. Nothing happened. We were staying in the same apartment. I intended to write “somewhere in the ninth” just now, but wrote “somewhere in the night” instead. It was somewhere in the night, too. She was a stranger, a friend of a friend. Older than me. We were staying there together by chance, alone, a fortuitous overlap. Me in a sleeping bag on the living room sofa, and she in a big wooden bed in the next room. We stayed in, stayed up late. At three in the morning she cooked ratatouille, braless in a sea green sweater. I had a boyfriend back home. Late June or early July, the sky stayed blue until midnight. In the morning we had warm baguettes and apricot jam. I never saw her again. In an old diary, somewhere, I still have her picture.
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