Monday, June 29, 2015

J'y suis jamais allé

We leave early but still get stuck in traffic at the Place de la Concorde. He swears in French and Italian, making resigned gestures with his hand stretched out through the open window. We drive along the river banks, through the tunnels, Paris disappears in the rear view mirror and I pretend I'm never coming back.

At our street, cafés and shops will open without us, tourists will get lost on their way to the Jardin des Plantes. The downstairs neighbor will scream at his wife and she will threaten to leave him, only we won't be there to hear it.

The A6 takes us south and changes names just after Lyon, a while later we're outside Avignon and slowly start heading east. Provence is an open field of flowers and insects, the landscape keeps changing over undulated spaces in yellow and green and then, suddenly, the ocean. It's as blue as I remember it and we step out of the car for the first time in hours and the fresh air hits my face with salt and sand and microscopic drops of water.  

Monday, June 22, 2015

Kathy, I'm lost

It's the first day of our last week in Paris, at least until sometime in August. My body aches as if I had been working this entire spring and I keep wondering what the ocean will smell like when we get there.

My first job was selling 100 flavors of ice cream in Silver Like, it was either that or asking mother to pay for my therapist. Chloe brought me sparkling white wine in brown paper bags, we were 14 and drank behind the counter until the manager found out and fired us both. Therapy went downhill from there.

The restless part of me looks forward to getting away from the city and the noise, but I know it's unlikely to last. Maybe we'll see Antibes this time, like with so many places I haven't been back there after that summer with my father. It's not the pain that scares me, my only fear in life is to forget what they felt like, those rosy fairy tale moments we shared.  

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Nothing scares me anymore

June has a certain smell, but I guess all months do. It's less apparent in the city of course, after his final exams he wants to go south to the ocean and the flowers and the sand. "Just the two of us" he says but I have a feeling we won't be alone for long.

My father took me to Antibes one summer, I remember it in much the same way it is now but the colors are different, tinted in subdued shades of yellow and brown: him, dashing in light linen suits in the crowds along the boardwalks, ethereal and free.

When I walked behind him he would turn around and look at me with his invisible smile, I was always the only one who saw it. Mother called him heartless so many times that I almost started to think it was true. When he died I was no longer afraid of the bad things that could happen because everything already had.


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Tell me you need me

It's Stephanie's birthday, Henry reminds me on his way out. "Have you called her yet" he asks, I lie and tell him I did. It's getting late now, I picture her sad and alone in bed, wondering if I remembered.

I always had friends growing up, Stephanie didn't. On her twelfth birthday her father invited me to their house, I was the only one there from outside the family. We spent the afternoon in her room, trying on Italian designer clothes in her little walk-in closet. "Dad would kill me if I wore something French" she said, "even Chanel".

I promised him I'd take care of her, maybe she still needs me to. If I call her I'll find out but I'm afraid of the answer so instead I keep watching the hours passing me by.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

On the road

Over drinks he starts sketching plans for the summer. "I want to see cities" he says, jotting down names on a yellow napkin: Amsterdam, Vienna, Brussels, Milan. He asks me what I want to do, I tell him I want to see airports. He smiles and strokes my hair but he knows I'm being serious.

Later he hails a cab on Boulevard Raspail and tells the driver to take us south. "Do you remember?" he asks, whispering as I lean against his shoulder. I fall asleep and dream about seagulls, when I wake up we're somewhere on the Autoroute du Soleil going back north.

I've always been afraid of the dark, even with him there to protect to me. He knows it and it makes him doubt my love for him. We're back home at 2 AM, he kisses my hand and calls me sweetheart. I'm awake all night until he leaves for school in the morning, then spend my day writing postcards and wearing his Balmain T-shirts.