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I’m sleepless in Paris.

Last night – a tragicomedy, a by-product of French vineyards.

An extraordinary transformation took place, eight bottles of wine for each methuselah of truth, unspoken, unadvertised, just out there for everyone to swivel and smell.

Stereotypes were affirmed, hypocrites had their mug shots taken, archenemies were befriended, strangers became soul mates – social labels stood knee high to human complexity, looking up in wonder and fascination at what is at once simple, empirical and sophisticated, obscure.

Behaviour can be most revealing. She laughs after everything she says because she wants you to think that she is funny and easy-going. She laughs because she wants your mirror neurons to laugh with her. And you do. But take a second to think it through and you discover yours was a vocal expression standing in line behind LOL, a giggle in vain, a laughter for the sake of laughing because, well, this situation is quite sad and sadness at cocktail parties is most unseemly.

As she laughs and you laugh, your smiles speak of social conformation, but your eyes speak of different things. You don’t notice this explicitly, but you feel it. You feel discomfort, you feel a lack of connection, and you feel like you would rather talk to someone else, to someone whose eyes smile in sync with his or her lips.

To tell you the truth, I have never heard her laugh, seen her body laugh and when I laugh so hard I need to run to the ladies’ room, I feel her sadness burn my back.

It’s vain to call it jealousy, but I have been her and I know the burn of envy.

She is insecure about her height in a crowd of shoulders to her nose.

I have been insecure about my outdated Mango shirts in the glare of the latest DKNY must-haves. I wish I had recognized that insecurity earlier, early enough to learn to laugh with my body and laugh with one of the sweetest girls I used to know in school.

Our insecurities poison too many relationships to not be talked about.

I wish I could tell Pope that I always thought I was not pretty enough or well-dressed enough or French enough to be comfortable around him and his jet-setter friends. He denies being that shallow, but I only see him in that light, in that spotlight of beauty and glamour of which I will never be a part.

And it has poisoned our relationship; we avoid each other every time we are within view of each other, we don’t even make the effort to say “Hello” anymore.

I don’t want to be that insecure girl and I don’t want to see him in the reflection of shiny surfaces. I don’t want to see him. I choose not to deal with it.

I want to deal with them in secret; I do not want anyone to know: that I struggle, that I am vulnerable, that I am susceptible to countless petty paranoias.

But just in the same way I sit in a corner watching people drink and talk and try to cover up, other people watch me and they know. There is no use in pretending. Most of us have good X-ray vision for discrepancies between what we say and how we say it.

I think we should talk about it, rather than leave it at the mercy of Sauvignon or Pouilly-Fumé.

The highlight of my last night was a conversation that took place up on the roof.

“I like older men.”


“I think I have daddy issues.”

“Tu sais, je l’ai toujours senti.”

“C’est vrai?”

“Oui, parce que, moi aussi, je suis un peu comme toi. Daddy issues. J’étais toujours attiré par des hommes, plus que des femmes, en effet, les personnes qui prennent soin de moi.”

As soon as he said that a flash of “I wish I didn’t” appeared in his eyes. It’s a sensitive subject in the Arab community, I don’t need to stress on that. But I was touched: this wonderful person was opening up to me. He was a little anxious, unsure, but he did it. And I didn’t bite his head off. By the end of the evening…

“Quand est-ce que on va se voir?”

“Quand tu veux. J’ai toujours envie de t’écrire un message, mais j’ai l’impression que t’aura des choses plus interessantes à faire.”

“Je te dis: I really enjoy your company. If you want to do something, you will be a priority.”

If I knew how to do magic tricks, I would have made it rain little hearts.

That was all it took.

The highlights of Paris weren't the parties, the macarons, but the moments when a slightly trembling hand took mine and let it open a secret drawer that was kept in the bedroom when the party was happening downstairs.

Those are the only moments that feel real, that matter.


  1. Hi, love to pass from time to time, but your writing confuse me sometimes. its too morbid why the gloom in it.

  2. Hello Nathalie, you are right, I haven't written anything uplifting in a while now, I guess I have let the world weigh down on me, but this too shall pass, I will be sure to remember you the next time I write and try and spread some brighter energy. I cannot afford to lose the few readers I have!