My old friend, Clarissa, sits across from me, holding my hand tightly as she continuously thanked me for my presence. We are currently in a cute little cafe in Paris. It is a little cold, cosy and there is this romantic scent in the air. As if it is calling towards me. Maybe I am drunk on nostalgia from Hollywood's view of Paris but I feel calm and relaxed. It isn’t so different from New York though. It is bustling with people, mostly tourists taking odd pictures, so much noise and all but there is something about Paris that is so different from New York. I can see why Clarissa wanted to move here.
“I can’t believe you left New York for little ol’ me!” She shrieks.
I look around the cafe as we get different looks from various customers.
“I would never miss out on your big break!” I say, “Plus, can you take it down a notch, you are embarrassing us both!”
“I’m sorry!” Clarissa apologises, "Oh…how do I say it in French…erm…désolé…désolé…"
Clarissa and I have known each other since our first year of university. We were roommates both interested in the arts but we somehow split paths. She wanted to become a freelance artist while I wanted to become a writer. She was in a world where she was free to do what she wanted, when she wanted but my world was filled with deadlines and coffee and phone calls in the middle of the night from people who lived hours away. I was kind of trapped in a never ending loop that seemed hard to break. We did still manage to keep in touch surprisingly but we were so far away. She lived in France while I lived in New York, a whole different time zone. Very separate paths but we were really into romance
“So...how’s The Big Apple, NYC, The Greatest City in the World, The City That Never Sleeps…” Clarissa starts to list out.
“Okay, okay, I get it…” I laughed.
“Come on! It’s New York! That’s a big deal! Jay Z made a song about that place!”
“Yeah...it’s…it's different from London, I can say that…” I heave as I try to stifle a yawn, “people are…different. Very energetic too. My neighbours really love each other...like a lot.”
“I thought you moved out?”
“I lived with Nick and now that’s not happening. I had no choice but to beg some old landlord to give me his cheapest place…”
“Wait, you and Nick broke up?”
“It has been a long time coming…he…he just made me feel bad about myself and…I need to cut that energy out of my life. I don't want a repeat of my dad.”
Clarissa sighs and leans back on her chair.
“You know what you need?” She asks.
“Some sleep?” I answer in a moan.
“A trip to Versaille. I know that you’ve always wanted to go so I was planning on booking us a tour at Chateau de Versaille. And since…”
“Don’t bring it up...”
“It could get you some ideas for that book you've been trying to write since…forever! What was it called?”
"The Gardens of Versailles?"
"Yes! That's the one! Why did you stop writing it? I remember reading some of it. It was so good!"
I lean against the table and sigh, staring at the coffee swirling in front of me. The noises from the street echo in my head, drowning out Clarissa's voice. I scratch my thumb at the thought of my old book, something that I thought would be a masterpiece. My masterpiece. My Mona Lisa. And now it just lies in my recycle bin. There are days I would restore it just before it gets deleted forever and I think to myself that maybe I can salvage it but no. I had nothing and the loop continues. I had no right to talk about love or romance or anything beautiful. I am the least deserving. I don't want to write about it because nothing comes to mind. I can't write about affections. I can't write about anything. My mind just becomes blank. It is so strange because when I first had that idea I had so many ideas, so many conclusions. Then came my first relationship and it sucked the joy out of me. I was just young…young and naive. That's the truth about love, actually.
"I don't know…" I sigh, "I guess I just don't have that spark anymore. I thought I had love all mapped out but…it's just kind of lonely. I…I don't know what love is and how it makes me feel…and… and that makes me the least qualified to write a book about love."
Clarissa raises a brow and hums.
"Well, we are in the city of love…" she mumbles.
"I just want to forget about that book," I sigh, "please? We can talk about anything else. Anything else in the world."
She leans back with a shrug.
“Then we can go watch some opera instead,” Clarissa suggests, “I know it isn’t really your scene and you probably won't understand a word they'll say but my artist friend, Antoine, invited me a few years ago and I cannot get over it! It’s so beautiful, so gorgeous. I just might swoon...”
“Wow, don’t go all romantic on me,” I chuckle.
“You know romance is all I know. This is Paris! Besides, you have to meet Antoine! He’s so fun! He was the one that got me into escargot!”
“He got you into eating snails?”
“It’s not as bad as you think it is.”
“If a guy got you, the pickiest eater on earth, into eating snails then I can’t wait to meet him.”
“He can’t wait to meet you! It would be so legendary! I would need to take a photo for my social media page! New York’s Finest meets Paris’...Coolest!”
“Stop over exaggerating…and I'm British.”
“No, seriously, I talk to him about you so much that he really wants to meet you! You know what...let me call him and invite him over for opera…”
Clarissa immediately picks up her phone before I can say anything and speedily dials a number. She chats into her phone so excitedly and it reminded me of the day we met. The way she talked, the way she wouldn't stop talking, the way she walked...I just knew that she would be that friend that would stick by my side. That friend that knew how to make me feel better but pushes me out of my comfort zone. I am in an industry where everyone is so competitive, you didn’t know who to trust or who even to listen to and Clarissa was that breath of fresh air that I needed. She acted as if she had no care in the world, taking the day one step at a time instead of rushing into things like I did.
After a few minutes, Clarissa drops her call and looks up at me.
“Antoine is down to meet at Opera de la Lune,” she says, “he managed to get us some last minute tickets for tonight. He seemed so excited to meet you!”
“What, is he like the son of the Prime Minister of France?” I roll my eyes.
“Erm…I think France has a president.”
Clarissa drops a few euros on the table as we grab our bags and leave the cafe. The chill Parisian air blows past me as I depart the building and it just feels so calm. It wasn’t just loud noise and people pushing past you like in New York, but it all felt so rosy and meaningful. Maybe it was because of all those fictions I read as a kid but it felt as if I was wearing rose tinted glasses. Everything seemed so romantic and beautiful. There was some sort of appeal in the air. Something that made me feel different from the person I was in New York. I could see the famous Eiffel Tower in the distance, standing tall like someone’s skeleton project as the cars whizzed by with a certain allure. Clarissa hails a taxi beside me as I pull my jacket on. Paris isn't that different from New York, socially, but it feels like Clarissa and I are worlds apart, as if we are in two different worlds. Clarissa in a picturesque world while mine was rushed and so fast paced.
Thank you for reading!
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