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Day 67: Look at Paris from 'Both Sides Now'...


Paris is like a pendulum that swings from the stereotypical visions of La Vie en Rose to the rough and dark side of the city where one wrong turn or failed connection can put you in a less than a postcard-worthy scene. One minute you are on the steps of Sacre Coeur enjoying the breaktaking views of the city and the next you are at Barbés-Rochechouart getting haggled to buy black market cigarettes. This goes with relationships too, one minute you are enjoying a romantic breakfast for two on a rainy morning and the next you are realizing that coffee was stronger than you had thought and need to use the bathroom.

Last night after the show, we scooted back to Aurélien's flat to stay. Since the venue was in Oberkampf and we were heading north and had no other choice but to scoot past by my former apartment that I had shared with MF. I had not been back in the 'hood since the break-up and had feared that upon returning I'd feel bereavement for my dead relationship. But you know what? I didn't. I indulged in reminiscence for my previous life and the different person I was a mere 6 months ago, but not for my previous life shared with him. Tant mieux.

The drive back to his place up to the 18th wasn't the most picturesque one could imagine and I was feeling a bit exposed on a Vespa as we drove through the seedier parts of Paris. We made it to his place intact but really could not imagine a female living in these parts. The streets were dark, desolate and congregations of men could be found sporadically on street corners throughout the quartier. When I first moved to town, I would put myself in some pretty compromising situations not knowing the city very well. One time, I had missed my connection as the métro was closing at 2 o'clock on a Saturday night and was left in Stalingrad. For those who know Paris, know that this is not where a petite foreigner with beginners French and no cash wants to be stranded in the middle of the night. I was being approached by men who were loitering around the station who were aggressively asking me "Ça va? Mademoiselle, Quoi? Ça va? Qu'est-ce que t'as?", inches away from my face. It was so annoying, I wanted to scream back "Ça va! OK! Ça va!!! Happy?!?" but I opted against the prelude-to-a-rape option and just walked away. Luckily and I do believe this was my Dad in heaven's doing, I spotted a girl who looked to be in the same situation as me and had learned that she was American and heading to La Motte-Picquet like me. It was incredible. A cab magically appeared and we escaped the creepy men who had an unfading desire to know how we were. We shared it to the 15th together where I was able to jump out and get cash from an ATM in a safer part of town to pay my share. After that night, I've always kept an emergency twenty stuffed in my coin purse and/or have had a boyfriend with some form of transportation. 

I woke up this morning sans Aurélien but to the smell of bacon crackling and coffee brewing and the sound of rain thrashing against the window. There was a plush terry cloth robe on the chair next to his bookcase and a little note that read: "Bonjour Mademoiselle. Pour toi...Rejoins-moi dan la cuisine, si tu veux.."  MoiJe veux! Je veux! I put the robe on and walked into the kitchen where there was an explosion of culinary madness happening. Aurélien was preparing for me an 'American' breakfast. He gave me a kiss and planted me at the kitchen table with a cafe allongé with a layer of frothed foam at the top. I can get used to being handed coffee minutes after waking up. Breakfast consisted of fried eggs, bacon, buttered toast, fresh squeezed orange juice that he made out of a contraption that was surely built in 1954, a kiwi, strawberry, banana smoothie and because he is French, smuggled in a croissant and confiture to bridge the gap between multi-cultural breakfast. I. was. in. heaven. I'm a simple gal. I don't need my man to take me shopping, buy me bags and shoes. Just feed me. Ok, feed me and tell me when you're running late. That's all. 

I found a little radio in his bathroom and brought it into the kitchen and surfed through the channels until I found Chérie Fm, the station that plays god-awful French love songs from the 80's. We enjoyed our breakfast to what I can only imagine being the French version of Captain and Tennille. 

Breakfast was lovely and with a full belly watched the rain pour down over Sacre Coeur in the distance, I was in a French dream which was interrupted by the sounds of my gurgling stomach. I needed the ladies room. Well if that doesn't knock the romance out of a situation -the first time you have to christen your new boyfriend's toilet- I don't know what does. So gross. This is the struggle of the beginning of a relationship. What do you do if you have to go to the bathroom? After coffee and all of the food that has been consumed, the need to go is inevitable. Everyone knows what's happening if you are in there longer than a minute and antiquated Parisien toilets force you to flush more than once adding a soundtrack to the situation. The return to the table is always a drop uncomfortable as your new partner comes to terms that his dream girl poops. It's so awful and I have always felt relief once that hurdle is jumped over which usually takes about 6 months.  

After overcoming the disgusting, I curled up on the couch debating whether to accept his offer of lounging around all day, watching movies and eating. Unfortunately, I had to get moving as my final week in Paris was coming to a close and the layers of things that needed to be done and people to see were mounting as each day slipped by. I said goodbye to Aurélien under an umbrella at the Porte de Clignancourt métro station and told him that I'd see him in September with slightly water-filled eyes. Descending down into the station, my misty water-colored memories came to a screeching halt when I was approached by hooligans trying to sell me métro tickets after they broke the machine which left passengers forced to purchase their tickets. And the pendulum strikes again...

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