WARNING: The following is a spontaneous adventure which
contains no famous art or architecture and isn’t for the weak hearted or those that like to think I’m safe.
Wine, Gifts and Sing Alongs
I was late for the Couch Surfing picnic yesterday evening (not your fault). I left our pad at 8pm, already one hour late. I still had shopping to do. I tried to move on instinct since C and I have been to the grocery near here a couple of times already. I really should pay more attention, ’cause I didn’t find it. If you could watch a GPS map of where I’ve been, you’d think that I was practicing some weird territorial marking ritual, as I’ve developed a habit of passing my target destination a few times before finally seeing it right there in front of me. I picked up a cheap bottle of French wine (gotta watch those Euros!), some Fromage Chevre and some pain (it doesn’t hurt, it’s just bread). I dropped myself down into the Metro and had another go at it—why not! (this would become my motto for the night).
I carefully navigated my way to the Louvre Rivoli station and made my way down to the park below the Pont Neuf.
Despite the many small groups of picnicers there, I found no Couch Surfers. What the hell, I was only 2 hours late! Since I didn’t know what they would look like (you can never really tell from internet photos), I had to do a lot of asking. An excuse to talk to strangers is always better than "Bonjour. I’m Denise (deneeeza) from the US of A and have wine and bread and cheese and no one to enjoy it with". That’s when I met Antoine and the magic began.
Antoine wanted to know what couch surfing was and then left his group to make it his mission to help me find my peeps. It wasn’t long before we realized there were no peeps to find. Turns out, his group was not his group, so he was free. He handed me his mostly finished Heiniken for a swig and I asked if he would join me for some wine. He was waiting for his girlfriend to get off work at the grocery store and meet him, but he had some time to kill until then. We headed to the Pont des Art (pondezarre) and found a spot to sit. This is the bridge I told you about in my first post, where all types of people meet at sunset. After sunset, the range of types gets a little narrower. If I were a 20 something Parisian, I would never get to bed in time for work the next day.
We borrowed a wine opener. I had a glass with me that I’d borrowed from the apartment. We borrowed a
knife for the cheese and he borrowed a phone to call his girl to let her know where to find us. We started sharing stories. He told me of a special sensitivity that nature had given him. For this he is medicated, but luckily, not all of the intensity of his experience is dampened. I can imagine that the level of stimulation he feels in every sight, sound, taste, touch and smell can be a bit much to handle, but to me, I find this trait to be a gift to anyone in his presence. He’s beautiful. With the confidence wine can give one, I told him so and I told him that he doesn’t have to worry. People will always love him.
As I get to know Antoine I like him more and more. He’s bright, kind and beautiful. He reminds me of an old love of mine that I hitched around the US with when I was 20 and he was the same age then, as Antoine is now. There was so much life in him. The thing that reminded me of Fish the most was his philosophy, which didn’t take very long for me to discover.
Rosane arrived and was very hungry "ungry, not angry," she said… although maybe a little angry, I thought. We broke bread together and were fast friends. When we finished the wine, the bridge was crowded. It was clear that Antoine didn’t have much in the way of funds, so I offered to whip on over to the grocery to pick up another bottle. He said that red wine doesn’t sit well with him. I asked him what he liked. Vodka. "I can get a bottle!" I said. That’s when he said, "why do you want to go an buy someseen? It’s far, and there are so many people ere that are appy to share." So we stood up, walked a few feet and landed on someone else’s party. Sure enough, they were more than happy to share. More wine for me and some Vodka for Antoine and Rosane.
They were wonderful. Amongst them, there was a guy with a guitar and we sang. "I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo. What the hell am I doing here?" … it was on that line that we all discovered my natural ability to sing these American Lyrics with the perfect American accent. This went over huge.
I talked to a Russian guy that told me that he thought Parisians were terrible. "What do you mean?" I asked. He said "They are so unclear."
Our new friends were finishing up and so we said goodbye and moved on down the bridge. Antoine said, "you choose this time." I scanned the groups for good temperament, liquor and guitars.
So, what’s Antoine’s philosophy, you ask? Everything he has, someone gave to him and if you need anything, at all, he will unselfishly give it to you, if he can and if he likes you, he’ll go out of his way to get you what you need. He’d probably give you the shirt off of his back even if he himself were chilly.
We sang. We drank. Antoine easily made many friends, including women. Rosane was now angry. Again with my wine wisdom, I explained that I didn’t think she could stop Antoine from sharing himself with many, but the question is, does he love you enough? If he does, you’re psyched and if he doesn’t, leave him, don’t hesitate. Life is short. This settled her down for a little while. Not long after came the screaming and arm swinging and running away. Antoine bolted after her. I wish it could have been a better goodbye for us. But he had his priorities strait.
I was left amongst the lingering party people, making conversation, making friends. Something happens at this hour. No one wants to go home alone. Although I had no intention of accompanying anyone that night, I can see how Jack could have gotten a different idea. Not only Parisians are unclear you know…. but at the right moment I made my intentions apparent and I split. No hard feelings.
The Metro does not run at 3am. Earlier that day, Gerard and I had walked here. It took a while and there were lots of stops along the way, but we did it, so I knew it could be done. I wasn’t too concerned that I had no guide. I had a map! Besides, there were people everywhere. People having fun, like me. So I walked and stopped every few minutes to say and ask "Bon Nui! Bastille?" When people learn that you can’t speak French, they try English, or maybe it’s when people see that you are obviously American, they try English. I think most just like to practice their languages. The late night people of the city were my guides and I found my way to Bastille.
I could hear my bed calling my aching legs and feet. This is when I met Killian, from Ireland. He was a bit strange and also drunk. He had a typical Irish look. He was a young Doctor, visiting for a conference. He wanted to buy me a drink, but I just wanted to go home, and the bars were closing anyway. He had the funniest accent and sing songy tone. "Where you going then?" I should have known better (don’t laugh!), but I let him point me in what he was sure was the right direction and walk with me for a bit. I knew which street I wanted to be on. I wanted to take it directly from the round about with the golden angel in the middle, the way I had many times already, but KIillian assured me that the street we were on, lead to my street. Once the two streets merged, I waved Killian off. "Can I have a kiss then? Ooooo. OK. Alright then, good night. I went back to moving solo.
I was on the right street, but unfortunately I had already gone too far. It sucks to turn back just before you get to the place you are looking for, so I went just a little further. I got out my map and decided that I should turn around. I walked 5 minutes and thought that maybe I’d passed it or something, so I turned around again. I was right here… but I was totally lost. I was exhausted. It was 4:30 in the morning… like it is right now.
Out of nowhere came David, the Israeli. He rushed into an embrace picking me up and swinging me around, as if we were old friends. He was so joyful to have finally found me, sure that I would not be able to resist his adorable self (where are all of these guys coming from and what’s gotten into everyone? Are the things you hear about Paris true? Is this the form it takes?). I told him that he was mistaken, that he should leave me alone. "But, why? OH, but you are so beautiful!" I didn’t even consider asking him for directions. I left him, saying "goodbye, David! Nice to meet you!" and headed directly toward some locals that were chatting across the way. "Seel Bu Play!!!!!" I asked them to look at my map and tell me how to get home.
I don’t know if they did this on purpose, but they sent me in the completely wrong direction. I was starting to feel defeated. I leaned myself up against a street sign and considered a nap, when this woman pulled up and rescued me. She was the sweetest angel I’ve ever witnessed. In case you’ve never seen an angel before, go out really late and get yourself stranded somewhere. If you’ve got my kind of luck, they come. She studied the map for 20 minutes or so, driving this way and that and finally drove me to my street, in her little car and wished me well. When I woke up 4 hours later it was time to go to the Louvre.
My next post will be about art and will contain many pictures. Stay tuned. I have to sleep for a couple of hours… zzz kiss kiss zzzzzz