Ça fait longtemps que j'avais pas posté ici, j'ai eu envie de ressortir un vieux texte datant de septembre dernier, à l'époque où j'ai réemménagé à Paris. Et parce que l'anglais est classe… ben il sera en anglais. Donc voilà.
Bonne lecture !
I trace my steps, walk the lines, remember every shaggy breath I once took. I am here and now, and yet I am also here and then, seven, maybe ten years earlier. I remember walking this same road over and over again, every morning, every evening. I fantasize about the times I could move slowly, then suddenly sprint on twenty meters as if the devil was chasing me, and then smile and walk again, and nobody would flinch. I remember doing it more than once when I was little. If I were to do it now, people would stare. Would I care though ?
A faint smile flashes on my lips, I gaze up at the blueish sky. It is slowly turning pink. I have been walking for almost a half an hour, and yet I feel like it has been five minutes of an eternity. I am here, but my mind is elsewhere, years back. My heart beats slowly, my thoughts roam freely. I remember. I remember it all. The cold air burning my lungs when I raced to the bus stop in fear of missing it, the overwhelming feeling of the people’s tired faces who all towered high above my own head, the weight of my backpack and the sleepiness that made my eyelids heavy. And, although the memories are clear, the bus lines get mixed in my head. Was it the line one hundred and seventy four I used to take, or the one hundred and sixty four ? I can’t tell. Not that it really matters.
Instead of taking the bus, as I would have done when I was little, I slowly stroll downwards, get my directions mixed up, finally decide not to go to the park where I intended to go, but to continue towards my old elementary school. The bridge that soars high above the green waters of the river Seine is buzzing with cars returning from work. People drive fast, always one hand above the horn. They are in a hurry, busy running home, just like my mum was not so long ago.
As I walk slowly next to the metallic fence, I spot a group of people staring at the water below. One of them takes a few steps back, firmly gripping a thin line, pulls up a living fish twisting frantically its glistening body in a vain attempt to free itself from the fishing hook. I stop and stare, startled to see there are still such big fish in that river. This one has easily the length of my arm from head to tail. As the man slowly lowers it back into the water, probably in the hope of catching an even bigger one, I lean on the barrier and stare down to watch how the fishing goes. Next to me, two kids and their dad watch the scene in absolute awe, commenting everything that is happening.
‘O, spójrz tata, tam jest jeszcze większa ryba !’
Oh dad, look, there’s an even bigger fish there !
I flinch, turn my head towards the kids.
‘Czesć’ I smile.
They raise their eyes to meet mine, smile, return the salutation. The dad glances at me, surprised.
‘Oh, hi’ he says in Polish.
We casually talk. Small talk. How come I speak Polish fluently, what am I doing here, where were the kids born and how old are they. We each recall a little the old times. The man’s polish accent is a little off at some moments, I feel he has not really spoken in a while. While discussing basically nothing, I continue to stare at the green stagnant waters, amazed that fish can live there when there are hygienic towels and other garbage floating at the surface.
Then, after a while, I smile, wave at the boys and walk away, while the children still follow every move of the fisherman and his prey. I carry on with my lazy stroll down memory lane, hesitate to go towards my college, finally decide to go instead to my old dance classroom. On my right side, big boats are moored alongside the banks, hidden behind a green wall of bushes. Some people live there, on these boats that never move. For a few moments, I consider doing the same someday, and the thought makes me smile. It could be nice.
One of the boats has been converted to what looks like to be a pretty little restaurant, unknown to the majority of the population. My thoughts briefly flicker to a particular someone I wish was with me right now, and I shake my head to get him out of it. Right now, it is because of him I feel this peculiar, happy and sad at the same time, longing for him yet knowing he is not ready to give me the love he would want to give me. The hurt of that thought is balanced by the mild beginning of acceptation of the situation, and the absolute knowledge of the fact that I actually went out and started walking just to clear my head of that mess and get a new perspective on the problem. So I move on towards my modern dance school.
Somewhere on the way, I almost bump into a young man who seems to have materialized behind a parking car, briefly catch the dazzling glance of his electric blue eyes, smile when I think about a cliché romance novel beginning. What the novels never talk about is the heavy polluted air that hits my face, swirling around me as the nearest cars race by, and the fact that the man never apologizes and basically disappears out of my sight in a matter of seconds.
I walk past my dance classroom, feel a tiny heartache at the sight of the old building that hasn’t changed since the last time I saw it. On the grass of the front courtyard marked by a clear sign ‘No dogs allowed’, a dog is happily burying its dejections while its owner stands by talking loudly into his phone. A hundred meters further, the same breed of dog is doing the same duty of soiling the asphalt, and the woman holding its leash looks down at her puppy with no visible intention of picking up afterwards. I walk past almost without noticing, my mind lost in the differences of what I see now and didn’t maybe see when I was little. There are so many things I realize today, so much things that didn’t bother me then but that do now.
There are people, usually strangers, that love the glamour of Paris, until they realize only the touristic parts of the city are pretty… and even that is not always true. There are people, usually other French people of other cities of smaller towns, that don’t like Paris. They hate its noisiness, they despise its overcrowded streets and the constant mess and agitation that makes living and travelling there equivalent to trying to get out of quicksand, while arriving on time basically becomes a deadly quest in one of the hardes games ever created. There are people living in Paris who hate Paris.
But I still like the city. Even though now I get to see the darer part of it, now that I can’t pretend to be blind and not understand, I still feel like nothing has changed since the times I was little. I guess that, in some place of my mind, I started to comprehend very young that it wasn’t all good and pretty, I got quickly aware of the fact that this place could be dangerous at times. But, then and now, it still feels like home. As I come back home in a rusty old bus that seems to be on the verge of breaking down at every sudden acceleration, I find myself smiling at the thought that everything is almost the same. It feels as if I had never left in the first place.
Up at the nineteenth floor, in my nine square meters room, I stare at an airline plane flying low. From where I stand, it looks as if it wasn’t even moving. The dim purple light that replaced the burning flare of the sun, which has now set, reflects on the white wings of the plane, tainting them pink. The view is magnificent.
I shake my head slowly. I know I am lucky. But most importantly, I know that I am happy at the moment. It may not last long, it never really does, but it is true right now. I haven’t completed even the half of my trip down memory lane, I still have many places to see again. But I am here now, and honestly, I don’t feel like moving out anytime soon, because this place doesn’t only feel like home. It is home.