We met at the Arc de Triomphe, sporting the same make of disposable wind-on camera from the 1990s. It was 2003; we should’ve had digital cameras. At the FNAC, we shared a magical half hour wandering the aisles in a kind of blissed out state, not talking and not really making any eye contact. I was looking for a CD by Marvin Gaye; you, some of Toni Braxton’s early work.
- Toni Braxton
We’d gone for a drink on Rue Oberkampf—a dive bar. I drank Stella Artois because I had no idea. Always un demi. Un-dummy. It was midnight by the time we got back to your flat, and you showed me the tiniest shower in Paris—the one in which you have to sit to shower. You then took my hand and led me to your bedroom where you played Braxton on a cassette player, lip-synching “Breathe Again” ahead of your time.
- The Tiniest Shower in Paris
Your boyfriend visited from Serbia, and for a week there was no communication. I was a lost soul. I wandered the FNAC and the Centre Pompidou with my headphones glued in my ears, Marvin Gaye or the Isley Brothers playing at full volume. I spied on you from the window of the patisserie across from your flat, watching as you both kissed and held hands, before walking down the street to the Metro station. I pictured your boyfriend naked and sitting in that tiny shower.
- Eyes Wide Shut
Near Odéon, we went for a late night film starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. It was not your cup of tea, but I was riveted to my seat. I wanted you to remain in yours. The plush curtains and red upholstery hypnotized me, putting me into a state of almost complete lethargy (which lasted for another five years). “I don’t like masks,” you said, touching your face. We ate falafel at a small Lebanese place near the Place d’Italie.
- Tom Cruise
On the train, you were sitting next to a poster of Tom Cruise. We were headed to the Buttes Chaumont, our favorite place in Paris. The train rolled into Laumière
and the lights went out and the train stopped, and for a minute nothing happened. No sound. No lights. We just ceased to exist.
- Parc des Buttes Chaumont
Near the Temple de la Syblle, we stopped to sit at a bench. We watched as the couples went slowly around the artificial lake. One couple looked just like us, down to the shoes. The woman was laughing; the man was holding something back. They paused by the ducks, frozen for a moment.
I wound my camera on and took a picture.