I'm sleepless in Paris.
One of the main reasons why I was so looking forward to coming to Paris was the facility with which I could leave my past behind. Here, I'd be nobody and anybody.
My past was here and too frequently in my vicinity. I'd often cross paths with The Pope. Now technically that wouldn't have been problematic, but we had had a few misunderstandings, unresolved issues and a slip of tongue in the first weeks of my being here, that by now we avoided each other and we both knew it. It was for our peace of mind.
Those issues needed to be sorted out. I hated feeling negatively towards him and I wanted him to know why I was avoiding him: not because I could not stand the sight of him, but because I thought he couldn't. Besides, if I were to bring up all our issues out of the blue, he would undoubtedly call it my "cinèma".
Our last and final misunderstanding was the direct result of bad translation and insecurity.
“Tu es chez toi?? Je suis en bas…”
Was this message for me? We hadn’t spoken for a month after the unfortunate night at his friend’s swank house party. I say swank because I had never seen a Parisian home this cool: right on the street in the 1er, ground floor, jazz band playing for the guests and passers-by. It looked more like a cozy bar than a house. I had brought along two friends and we let loose. I recall the punch bowl with forest berries that I kept revisiting, the buonissimo cheese platter I could have called my own, the stumbling, the bumping into people, the spinning room, the iPhone videos of other people, the loud laughter, the obnoxious poses for the camera. Let’s just say it was one of the most fun nights I had had in a long time, minus the social decorum. The next morning, I woke up not with a hangover, but a perpetual blush, a blush you’d wear if you were caught looking through a key-hole.
His message was definitely a surprise.
“Yes, what are you up to?”
“Je bois un verre”
Indeed, when I looked out the window to the street below, there he was with his friends standing outside the bar.
“Je bosse un peu, tu veux passer?”
“Dernier etage 829b”
10 minutes later.
“Tu veux que je passes??”
“Si l’absence d’un ascenseur ne vas pas t’etouffer, oui, passes”
Why was he repeating himself? Something was off…
“Je suis pas comme ca enfin Sleepless…”
Je suis pas comme ca. What? What was that supposed to mean? I am not like that. Like what? Like I don’t go up to my ex-girlfriend’s house?
I was home with a friend, not with rose petals on the bed.
“Enfin, je crois que tu m’as mal compris.”
“Mal compris explique moi.. C est quoi ton adresse etage et code??”
“Ca veut dire quoi “je ne suis pas comme ca”?”
I started ignoring him. I could hear their laughter echo all along the street. Drunk and on the crawl for tonight’s headline. I’ll pass.
“Ba tu me propose de passer alors je viens…tu veux pas? En plus j ai un cadeau”
A gift? His friend was holding a rose wrapped in plastic. With my sense of humour leeched out of me, I thought it best to continue ignoring him.
“Sleepless tu me laisses, dans mon coin… Tu me donne l etage, le code mais pas le numero…Apres tu fais ton Cinema. Je te propose de te voir. Je ne pense uniquement a coucher avec toi!! Mais si tu veux pas que je passe dit le moi au lieu de me faire attendre. Merci”
Only the next day, did I come to realize that he never actually knew where I lived. He had dropped me home once, at the end of the street and I walked the rest.
“Pope, bonne nuit et bon spectacle a toi et tes amis”
“C’est toi qui as le spectacle vu d’en haut…”
Shit. Did he see me? No, that was impossible. I had to deny it.
“I wish, would’ve been interesting.”
“Ca reste un spectacle, apparament tu interpretes mal…”
“C’etait et ca sera toujours un malentendu entre nous. It’s a pity really that we speak on different wavelengths.”
It went on for a little longer, we were talking in circles.
“On peut oublier cet episode? Sans rancune”
“Je n’ai aucune rancune, mais toi oui pour reagir comme cela…”
He was right, but I couldn’t be wrong.
“Quoi dire, j’adore le cinema…mais franchement, aucune rancune”
“Et bien parfait alors la prochaine fois tu m’invitera chez toi simplement…”
And that was that. We never spoke again. We would avoid looking in each other’s direction. We tried to be friends and failed.
But the more I’d avoid him, the more reason I had to want to leave Paris. It was likely that after that, I’d never see him again.