Letters From Paris - A Multimedia Novel

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Willim Willson

Purging (and Bingeing)

OK, I think I owe you an update... Remember a few weeks ago when I met Anna (the Columbian from America) and she gave me her email address? And then do you remember a couple of weeks ago when I actually emailed her and invited her to that one party?  Well I forgot to tell that a week ago she finally responded back with something like:

"im sorry. im sick. i've been throwing up :( ill text you as soon as i get better, xx"

So, as is my habit, I wrote back with something kind of inappropriate, slightly mean, and very funny:

"Sorry to hear that. Is it serious or is it just like a normal everyday bulimia sort of throwing up? Just kidding. Actually, are you bulimic? If so, I'll never offer to take you to dinner. That would be a waste... Anyway you didn't actually miss much, hope you feel better. oo"

Apparently she has a sense of humor because she emailed me back and said something like "haha, I'm better now, call me next time you go out" and gave me her phone number.

First of all I can't believe that email worked. I mean, there is always the possibility that she didn't actually know her phone number until I accused her of being bulimic. But most likely she knew the damn number but was not sure that she wanted to give it to me... until I accused her of being bulimic...

Secondly, notice how she never answered the question. Now, I'm not saying she is bulimic, but she's not saying that she is not... that's all I'm saying. Not that I would blame her though. I think that the desire to purge is natural. Not purge in the throw-up-all-the-food-you-just-ate sense of the word, but more like purge in the sense that one might want to cleanse and purify and empty oneself. For Example, my life has been plagued by sinus infections. Sometimes when it gets bad and I am really stuffed up, and I'm walking around with bags under my eyes, like the flesh is dropping off of my face or something, and a mouth that gapes wide open like I'm some sort of semi handicapped child, and I look (and feel) like a zombie, those are the times that I just want to stick a vacuum up my nose and suck all of the shit out. It wouldn't even matter if I sucked up my brains with it because I'm already a zombie, the important thing is just to clean everything out, to breathe freely again.

I feel the same way about myself sometimes. Like I wish I could just hang my soul up on a meat hook and strip off all of the calcified pockets of terrible that I have let myself become and just be clean again for a while...  I guess that's kind of what life is about isn't it? Doesn't the bible say something like God is a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purge us like gold and like silver? I still believe in God I guess, it's only that sometimes I'm worried that I'm not actually the gold or the silver... certainly there are times that I feel more like the dross.  Still, every now and then, I actually do go through some sort of "cleansing". I promise myself to make changes, to stop doing all of the things that I know I shouldn't... to start doing all of the things that I know I should. And I always tell myself that this time, it's for good. I say that this time the changes will last, like I actually believe it or something. Even though experience would suggest otherwise. But now I understand that nothing ever lasts. This is something that Paris has taught me. I'm not saying that people can't change, I sure hope they can... but maybe life is more about processes than it is about results.

This is a tangent, back to Anna. Using her newly obtained phone number, I invited her over to Nico's. She showed up late, mascara running like she had been crying about something. Nobody mentioned it. Anna is interesting. She is a Jewish Atheist from Columbia who went to high school in Tennessee but lives in Paris. Interesting. She is beautiful, but not as beautiful as I remembered her being three weeks earlier, maybe it's the lighting... or the running mascara. She is South American but looks European. Dark hair, blue eyes, fair skin (Hell, maybe that is what Columbians look like, I've never been to Columbia). She is twenty-one, which old enough, but still young. Some twenty-ones are younger than others. She is a young twenty-one. I got the impression that she didn't know what to say sometimes because she didn't know me well enough to know if I would agree... and hadn't yet decided if she cared. We watched some youtube videos. She didn't laugh much, didn't feel safe yet I guess. Apparently she has a boyfriend back in America... but that didn't keep her tongue out of my mouth when I walked her home that night.

We took the one to the Hotel de Ville and walked through the latin quarter. She was telling me that the reason she hadn't given me her phone number at first was that when she had met Drew and I we were dressed in shirt and ties and holding bibles, and she thought that we were missionaries. Then she stopped.

Anna: This is the Rue du Chat-qui-Pêche, do you know it?

Me: Fishing cat street?

Anna: Oh, so you can speak French?

I followed her down the road which was much more like an alley... a narrow alley.

Anna: This is the narrowest street in the city. It's not even six feet wide.

Me: Must be a popular place for muggings. Did you bring me down here so that you could rape me?

I stopped her and she turned around. I looked her in the eyes and she looked down.

Anna: I have a boyfriend.

I took a step toward her pinning her up against the wall.

Me: In America, or in Paris?

Anna: America.

And that's when I kissed her. She went right for the tongue. Interesting. I thought about feeling bad for kissing another man's girlfriend, but I couldn't quite bring myself around to it. Not with her tongue in my mouth, distracting me. And I've never had much respect for long distance. Relationships are meant to be experienced in proximity. And then I thought of you. But I didn't think about you too much. It wasn't more than a blip really. She started gnawing on my ear and it pulled me right back into the moment.

When I finally dropped her off and made my way back to Nico's, Drew and Nico were waiting for me. They wanted a full report which I gave. There was a mixed reaction. Nico was laughing and giving me high fives, Drew was shaking his head. I knew Drew was right. The girl had a boyfriend. I mean at very least I could have gotten to know her a little bit before turning her into a cheater. But the worst part was that I didn't even mean it. It was empty. I guess this is me bingeing. I spent last week crying and puking and bleeding and now I need something to fill the hole, so to speak. Like I said, nothing stays empty for long. And if you don't fill your holes with something they find a way to fill themselves.

I guess the real problem with bulimia isn't that people eat, and it's not even that they throw up afterwards. It's that they become addicted to the process. They eat because they like the way eating feels but they don't really mean it. They don't use any of the food that they put in their mouths, they just spew it up into toilets and trash cans, . Eventually they keep throwing up because they like the way that throwing up feels, whether or not there is anything inside of them to get rid of.

Kind of makes me wonder why I am sitting here spewing my heart and my soul and my self all over these letters. Am I just purging because I am addicted to the way it feels. Is it all just empty? Is it all just grey skies and bullshit and sadness? I guess I am writing to tell you how I am doing, but that doesn't really mean much if you are never going to read any of it. Maybe I am just becoming addicted to the process.

I thought that I had decided against sending them... but maybe once I figure out how I feel... I should let you know.




Martin and Martine are fighting again. They scream, yell, throw things. I think one day one of them will end up killing the other one. I am pretty annoyed by the whole situation. It's not the fighting that's bad, though I can hear every word in this apartment with paper thin walls. The bad part comes tonight. They have a fight like this about every three days and without fail they stop fighting and fuck all night long. Then they are even louder. I wish they would make up their minds, do they love each other or hate each other. Maybe neither. Probably a little of both.

I'm considering spending the night at Nico's again, but last time Drew wouldn't share the futon and I slept on the floor. ...Perhaps I should look for another place to live.

Maybe it's not so much the noise that keeps me up at night. Maybe it's knowing that even though these two people are going to kill each other one day tonight they have someone and I don't. I never fight, what's their to fight about? It's just not in my nature. Maybe I am missing something.


Their fighting and their fucking. Both are filled with violence. I'm not a violent person. Is that why I don't understand love? Is it a key ingredient? Like in a rock and roll love song?

A few hours later and as predicted all the screaming and banging is replaced with... well, screaming and banging.

I leave my house and I run down the alley looking for anything I can break, it's time to learn to be violent. I find a glass bottle and I throw it against a wall. The violence comes pretty easily. I watch the bottle shatter into a thousand pieces... and just below the violence is the hate. I'm not sure if the hate is a new thing, or if it's been hiding there all along, but either way it's there, and it's all puddled up waiting to be poured out over one very special person... you.

I hate you.

I hate you because I can't stop thinking about you. I can't just let it all go, can't just forget about the whole thing. You're just another girl. I know far cooler girls, far more attractive girls, girls with less issues, girls who are far less selfish, far more emotionally fulfilling. You weren't my dream girl by any means. So why is it so damn hard to move on? I wish I understood. We did fit like puzzle pieces intelectually. But why does that mean so much to me and so little to you. I guess that's not important right now. All that matters at the moment is that I hate you.

I hate you because I still love you. I hate you because you are far away, and all I have to hate is your memory...

And I hate everything else because I have no idea what any of that gibberish means. I need something to hit and something to hit it with.

There is a push broom leaning against a wall outside of the entrance to a tobacco shop. I pick it up and I swing it around. I want to break that window. I do it. The window shatters easily, it is no match for my broom and my hatred and I. The three of us patrol the night searching for victims. Another window shatters, and another. The fourth breaks the broom, I discard the remains of my weapon and I run. I flee the scene of my crime, around a corner, through an alley, down a hill. I gain speed as I charge downwards toward the city. Am I trying to build up the violence or release it? It's hard to tell, but for now, the violence has pushed away the loneliness and I run through the empty streets like a bolt of pure energy, a being made of hot breath and fear and power.

But I can't keep it up. I catch my leg as I am jumping the small gate leading into a poorly lit park. I fall. Lying on my face in the Square de Montholon, the violence dissipates and the emptiness returns. Apparently the hate was just a thin cover for the despair. I am bleeding.

I pull myself up and wander a few steps. Then I fall to my knees and I cry. There is no one around to hear me, but it wouldn't matter if I was in the middle of the Champs Elysées, I couldn't help myself. And I don't want to. I just want to get this all out, like maybe if I let your memory bleed out through my nose and my mouth and my eyes, and let every part of you just pour from my face with the rest of the mucus and saliva and saline, then I'll be free from you for good. And then I'll be whole again.

It works... kind of. After I am finished I rise to my feet, brush myself off and begin the long walk home. No one can keep crying forever. I am exhausted and I am cold, and for the moment I am free from all other concerns. But about halfway home I pass an advertisement for a Monet exhibition. It could have been any artist, but it happened to be Monet, and Monet always reminds me of you. Your weight fills my heart, which sinks to the bottom of my stomach. I forget how cold I am as I remember everything else. Nothing has changed, and I'm not any closer to understanding love. Or feeling it.

Violence is a dead end.



Currently watching:
Animal Kingdom

Party All the Time

I don't belong here. Which is why I am standing all the way over here by myself. Drew and Nico are playing at wingman and trying to pick up some of the girls that came here to drink things and to look pretty for all of the other girls that came here to drink things. (This is what "going out" boils down to for women, as far as I understand it) I don't know which of my friends is the wingman and which is the... lead pilot? Is there a term for that other guy, the one who uses the wingman? I don't know. And I don't think that Nico and Drew know either. I mean, I don't think that either of them know which is the wingman and which is the... notwingman. They'll know soon enough... those things have a way of sorting themselves out.

This whole night was Nico's idea. Drew has been staying at his apartment for the last few days. Partly because he had an open futon and Drew was getting tired of spooning with me every night, and partly because Martin and Martine had been fighting again, and it hasn't been pretty. Like, throwing wine glasses and cussing in Français and day-after bruises, not pretty. And it has been going all night for the last two days. Actually if nobody minds, I'll spend tonight spooning with Drew on the futon at Nico's place. That is, of course, unless their little game of wingman works out.

Which brings us back to the present. Nico suggested that we all come out to this event for international students. I thought it would be like an ERASMUS thing, so I was thrilled, because my last one had worked out so well (this is sarcasm). I actually love dancing, but I haven't been sleeping a lot in the last couple days thanks in part to the domestic violence in my apartment, and in part to... some other stuff, I guess. Anyway, I just didn't really feel like going out. Plus, I emailed Anna to see if she wanted to come with us. No response. I'm starting to wonder why she didn't just take my number and call it, that would have been an easy way to figure out her number. Point is that I don't have much to dance about. Which, works out I guess because as it turns out this is not an ERASMUS event, it's an alumni event for a private international business school, so it's a roomful of rich/drunk people from all over Europe (and guests). Apparently Nico's dad is pretty rich. That makes one of us.

So here I am, standing in the corner because I don't belong in the rest of the room. I think you would be uncomfortable here, too many people, not enough familiar faces. You would want to go somewhere else, somewhere more intimate. I stay. I stay standing in the corner. From my vantage point I can see the whole party, the whole, entire, pointless party. The rich European businessmen (and guests) are in constant motion, a swirling current of people sliding past one another, bumping shoulders, apologizing. The current swells and ebbs powered by the churning beat of some european electronica. The music isn't for dancing, it's for the mingling and mixing of opposing sexes. Is this Love? Is this how it begins for the rest of the world? Just a room full of foreigners that you can't understand moving towards and away from giant speakers with a drink in their hand, bumping into something that they can barely see or hear, and saying "good enough". From my corner, it's plain to see that this is how the species promulgates itself, this is how we get tricked into reproducing. We make it loud enough and dark enough and drunk enough and then we find the first person who's willing to go downstairs and hop in a taxi. But we need to act fast, attraction seems to dissipate as soon as we open our mouths and realize how much we all dislike each other.

But I guess these things are impossible to understand from the outside. And I don't drink. It's a religious thing. So I just turn around, look at the wall, and write this letter while the crowd continues swimming in their mixture of alcohol and music. Churning. Like a million sperm looking for an egg.

If my sperm are anything like me, I'm probably impotent. Not that I would know... Maybe if I drank alcohol, I wouldn't be a virgin. Seems to be how it works.


Willim Willson

P.S. Drew tells me you have been dating someone. I... um... Well I guess I don't really have anything to say about that.