I felt I needed to go back to Paris, at least just for the credit card gas for them! And Manon invited me to stay with her for a few days. She was in a little apartment with room mates, but they were away. It was more melancholy on the way back but in a nice way, kind of like when you know the day is over, but looking forward to going to bed. Thierry driving slower than on the way down and it was quiet in the car.
Marie seemed sort of subdued and a bit dreamy, I hope it was the afterglow of the whole thing. Her and Thierry certainly now knew each other in the way husbands and wives should. What am I saying so euphemistically, they screwed each others brains out! I don't have the experience to say whether or not it was enough, It was more than I thought a couple would do it for that period of time! But it sure took the edge off of Thierry. He almost looked dreamy too.
I kissed them both goodbye and told them again that if they could get to California, they had a place to stay with us. And Manon and I went up into her little apartment. In Paris everything is upstairs and maybe that's why Parisian women have good legs, all the stairs! It was a cute place, small, but with both a street and courtyard view and the buildings around were not as tall so there was some views out to the roof tops. No one else was there, but it looked like they had had fun before they left. Dishes in the sink, dishes in the living room, clothes in the bathroom, clothes on the floor! In other words how girls live on their own.
Manon gave me the option of the couch, which was old and hard looking, or her bed with her. I took her. I was feeling a little sad, that such a great time was over, that I was in the same city with a man I had feelings for, but no longer any connection to. I was a little lonely. I usually don't admit to myself that I need other people, but tonight I did.
It had been a while since I had had a close girl friend. Greta my therapist is my friend too, and we are very close because of what we talk about, but she is also paid to see me, and in her 70's and our friendship is more adult. Its different. Manon was young and our friendship was based on play and similar temperaments and situations. Manon had lost her parents when she was little and was raised by her grandmother. I think that's part of the reason she was the way she was, independent and imaginative, but also very protective and nurturing. Parents can be controlling in ways grandparents aren't. Grandparents are at the time of life when they have more patience and less worry and let kids be the people they are rather than trying to mold them into some idea of who they want them to be.
Manon's room was like her. Eclectic and warm and colorful and orderly and a little old fashioned. She had lots of books and a stuffed chair and a stand light, and big windows. It had the feeling of a toy box or treasure chest, with little objects, and a oriental rug that was worn, but clean and full of character. Her clothes were neat in her armoire, socks folded, and panties too. Mixture of little girl and old woman.
We went to sleep early, tired from the trip. She seemed especially content to be back in her own place. She said her brief words to god, bon nuit to me, got in on the left side just like before, and took my hand in hers and fell asleep. I couldn't sleep right away, maybe it was that I missed the sound of Thierry and Marie, or the smell of the country, but it was only for a few minutes.
I woke up to the sound of dishes, Manon was already up and cleaning! So I pee'd and went to help her, but when she saw I was up she told me to get dressed so we could get coffee. We went to a place around the corner and a block away and people greeted her like they had truly missed her and we ordered our coffee's, cafe au'lait, which is expresso with cream. Sort of miniature of Starbucks® without all the sugary flavorings. But the expresso is soooo good. Rich and smooth and deep sort of like how sharffenburger chocolate is compared to hersheys. And we had the chocolate thingys that are sort of a not curved croissant with little bits of chocolate in them. We sat outside and watched the people go by. It was a Saturday, so it was just people meandering, and walking their dogs and stuff.
Paris is a dog town. You see then in stores and in restaurants, and they let them poop on the sidewalks! You have to be careful walking. But they have these cute green streetsweepers like you would see on the street in San Francisco, but they were miniature and they did the sidewalks! One guy would have a big hose and squirt a lot of water and the sweeper would drive up and down the sidewalk scrubbing it!
I like dogs, but not the mess and the neediness. But its cool that people can do something so impractical in such a big city and have it be part of the culture. Like the coffee. And just sitting at a cafe for it, or for lunch or dinner and just chilling and watching the world go by.
I hadn't showered or anything so we went back up to her apartment and she started cleaning, so I just started helping instead of showering, and we ended up really cleaning the place up, including washing the woodwork where it gets hand prints, and cleaning the corners of the floors and taking the rugs out to the courtyard and beating the shit out of them. That was fun. Manon would be a bad person to get angry, if she had a stick in her hands! She would twist around and hit the rug so hard that I was afraid she was going to break some part of herself or strain herself, but she loved it and was laughing and beating and it was just play, not work. We really cleaned almost all day, scrubbing the tile in the bathroom and finding all the crumbs in the kitchen, and the place really felt good. Smelled good too and we were real proud of ourselves. Her roommates are sure lucky to be living with her.
It was like 3:30 or 4 when we took turns showering, and we were both hungry, so she grabbed a shopping bag like are so trendy here in the US now instead of "paper or plastic?" And we went to a store called Monoprix, and she bought nummy stuff. Cheese and 2 bottles of inexpensive champagne and a bread and little containers of olives and artichoke in oil, and one I think was some kind of preserved fish! It tasted better than it sounded, intense and salty. And we jumped on the metro across the river and she took me to Pere Lachaise. The cemetery! Sounds weird I know, but it was a perfect place for two quirky girls to get drunk and pay our respects to the dead BY BEING ALIVE! She showed me Chopin and Jim Morrison, who everyone goes to see, but also Balzac, and Jean de Brunhoof who wrote Babar the Elephant, and Colette, and Marcel Proust, and Oscar Wilde, and Gertrude Stein! and and and.
I've got an idea for a book and a general outline and I've writen some sketches of stuff I know will fit in, but its going to be work to put it together and make my idea really work. I'm not really educated enough yet to know if my idea is new or if someone did it before me, but I think its cool. I'm not really ready to say the idea, but I'm being brave and saying I'm doing it.
She knows about my book idea. I don't know if she was trying to tell me something about writers dying? Or impress me with the influence of Paris. I could so go back and write there. There is something about it. Maybe its that it is a different culture and its easy to be apart from it enough to see things about it you wouldn't about your own. Or maybe its the coffee and the way everything is so old that you don't have to be worried about it all changing real fast. But Paris is inspiring to me. As these thousands of words tell! I didn't mean to write so much. I worry that I'll use up all my inspiration on blogging and not put it into the book, but the book is going to be a few years of work and not so casual and stream of consciousness as blogging. Yes I do know there are typos and unacceptable, by any university standard, grammar and syntax.
But I'm not writing for a grade or approval and fame, but because I have this need too. Actually I need to confess that my "Far Edge of Seventeen" blog was partly school work. Greta and the counseling office at school arranged for me to do one of my classes as an independent study and I got 2 units for the writing on "Far Edge.." I also had to critique it, but that was easy as there was so much just simply bad mechanical writing stuff to point out. But all the writing was from the heart. And it was also sooo healing. But by doing it I now have the bad habit of externalizing a lot of my thoughts, and saying things that make some people uncomfortable. There are a couple of people who are real mad at me for talking about some stuff. One was once my best friend.
Manon kissed me after we finished the champagne. We were sitting on some steps in a quiet area and it was starting to get dark, and she leaned over and kissed me. Like the song says, I liked it. I liked it a few more times. I kissed back too. And yea she did her presence thing. The cemetery was already closed and we were pretty much alone. It was like we were the only two people in the world, and surrounded by all the dead heros. Two girl goddesses in their own world. Totally surreal and yet so comfortable. Peaceful.
She knew a way out and we threw away our bottles and trash and she folded up the grocery bag and we walked back to her apartment. It was like 2 miles and warm and the people on the street were in summer weekend mode, happy and active. She held my hand some of the time, or maybe I held hers, and we skipped sometimes like little girls and a few times we ran as hard as we could for a block and watched all the people look at us like we were crazy. It was one of the best days of my life and I spent most of it cleaning!
Her roommates had returned when we got back and there were a couple of guys with them and they were drinking wine and smoking and talking, and I had some wine and tried not to cough and occasionally they would talk to me in English, but usually they were speaking french too fast for me to even pick out the individual words, much less understand them. It was nice. Its nice when people are just being themselves and enjoying each other. Manon sat with me and we chilled and listened. I think that if I were not there, Manon would have done the same, just sit quietly smiling and listening, with her little songs in here head look. Not that she didn't jump in sometimes but she hardly ever seemed to need attention like I do.
The next morning I bought her breakfast at a cafe. Coffee again and some fruit and omlettes and toast with rhubarb jam, and it was sunny on us but not yet hot and stuffy. We sat around and had more coffee for a while. She had work the next day, and I knew I needed to kinda let her get back to her life, she wasn't on such a long break from real life as I was. I tried not to think about it and I think she was the same. I know she will be my friend for the rest of my life and that we will visit and stuff and bring our kids and husbands to each others homes when its like that, and still be friends when we are old. But I knew too that this first part of our friendship will be something I will always remember. It will be like, more real when I remember it, than it was when it was happening.
We went over to the Vareene's later in the day and brought some little gifts, lavender soap and sachets and a bottle of wine from where we stayed. We stayed for dinner and had a nice visit. Its funny how you get to know people, or how you get into their lives, just by accident, because I think I will know these people too for a long time. Its weird, being 18 now and starting to make friends and connections that are totally my own. I mean I have friends and acquaintances from home and school but those were situations I was put in by my parents, this feels different.
Leticia looked happy that I had enjoyed myself, Théo was a bit reluctant to chat too much. I didn't find out about miss pink hair until after I got back. I wasn't brave enough to ask about Nicolas, or too stupid. I do that a lot, run away from things I should stay around for. I'm learning that it just makes it worse. He was important to me. Not that I'm unreal about it, but we had connected in a way that I had really been wanting to connect with a man. Really it was the first time I had had a man connect with me where it was a strong mutual attraction, and emotionally intimate, and MATURE, and sexual too. Like the whole package. I joked before about little french babies, and really I knew that wasn't going to happen, but it kinda felt like it could have and it sort of hurts to get close and then nope. C'est la Vie. (I just used up my one legitimate use of the overused expression here, enjoy it!)
Manon left for work about 8 am and I spent the day looking at maps on the internet and at train schedules and trying to come up with some plan. Finally I decided that I would make a circle of France and try to take night trains every day! I had a 9 day rail pass and had only used 2 days of it!
Manon was the perfect friend for me. We were enough alike that it was sort of automatic between us, but enough different that we were interesting to each other. It was sort of like the Wizard of Oz, being friends with her, she gave me courage. But it was something that was already in me, just needing to be brought out.
Manon came home from work and went with me to the train station. There was a lot of crying. It wasn't easy and I wasn't running away, I was doing what I needed to do, trying to be independent and brave and living life, why I was in France in the first place. I was sobbing on the train as it pulled out and she was too. Silly girls. I watched her out the window as long as I could see her. I calmed down after a few minutes and the seat felt comfortable and I felt excited to be headed into the unknown. Trite phrase, but that's what it felt like. I imagined Manon smiling at the thought of me all alone and being brave, and walking home with a little tune in her head and warm memories. I know that's what she felt. Happy for me.
Next Le Grand Cercle