The New Year in Paris
A notebook entry.
This essay was written as part of Project 1,825 Things.
On New Year’s Day, the dawn still breaking at 8:24 a.m., and all the street lights still on. All the decoration lights were still on too, the fairy lights strung on balconies and in front of restaurants and across the street, and the all-night Au Pied de Cochon with its neon blazing and the decorated Christmas trees lined up in front, like waking up as a child on Christmas morning to find the living room aglow. The new day, of a new year, soft and pinkish gray. People still out at the restaurants and bars that had stayed open all night, cleaning up. Runners out to start the new year. Walkers out like me. Four people hanging out of a balcony from the top floor of a building, who shouted to me: Bonne Année! Listening to retro pop music, one of them holding a bottle of champagne, shouting into the skies. I looked up. They cheered. I twirled a little in my long coat. The new year in the old park, which is really a new park built on the site of an old market, which was that day transformed, and I walked there as if on the dust of a wholly new planet.
This newly created world, so much like the old one, but a marvel, as if marveling at a replica, a model, made of light or sugar. The buds already out on all of the trees, the magnolia, and dogwood, and lilac. Velvet pods, pregnant with the spring and summer. There is nothing dead about this expectant, naked time, when the trees have stepped out of their colorful robes and stand bare before the mirror, finally able to show the first swelling hints of their soft secrets. And their secret is, as always: leaves, flowers, fruit, pollen, seeds! The world never grows tired of this. Fatigue exists only in the realm of mortals. To the gods, the death of us, of the year, of the season, of the leaves, of a city, an idea, a generation, they are but waves that lap at the unchanging, and do not even crash.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to A Writer's Notebook to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.