Valentines Day

It's Valentines Day in Paris. I guess it is in the rest of the world as well. I had planned to spend the day inside. I don't know why, maybe as a way of refusing to celebrate a holiday that I don't understand, maybe as a way of punishing myself for coming here in the first place, but most likely to avoid the hundreds of couples that filled up all the airplanes to come to France and kiss under the Eiffel tower with all of the other couples wealthy enough to be romantic. But however determined I was to stay in, around 2 PM I heard the sound of drumming outside my window. I investigated and discovered the Carnaval de Paris. It was essentially a parade. Though it seemed slightly less organized and slightly more interesting. But the big news is that I met someone. A girl. An American. Her name is Becca. She was taking pictures of the procession near Republique and I made some comment about the quality of light being better if she shot the procession from behind and it turned out that she spoke English and we got talking. Apparently she lives here. We followed the Carnaval down where it ended at Hotel de Ville. After we'd had enough drumming, marching and costumes we crossed the river to see the Notre Dame.

Becca is pretty cool. She's here doing a fashion internship.

She took me to an English bookstore called Shakespeare and Company. We sat and listened to an improvised concert from two guys who later told us their names were Mabite and Julien. Julien-Mabite played a song called Gloria that was rather nice... I didn't really understand it but it sounded nice and their French listeners seemed to enjoy it. They kept playing until no one could think of another song that they knew. Then they stopped. It turned out to be the kind of eventful Valentines Day that you would see in a movie. But I guess it would have been a French movie because there wasn't really a story, just events. Maybe what makes events a story is the relationship they have to one another. In American movies events have a cause and effect relationship, building upon each other like Lego® blocks. In French movies events tend to have a more lucid relationship, like building something out of blocks that never actually touch. Maybe they think this is the way life is. Just a series of disconnected scenes with the same main characters... Of course this is a generalization, many French movies take the mainstream Hollywood approach to storytelling and many American movies don't. But neither approach really approximates life appropriately, does it? Maybe life is a mixture of cause and effect and unrelated uneventful events...

Maybe life is what you get when you have those two extremes existing simultaneously. Events that mean nothing causing everything. Right now I am sitting in a room, alone, recording a history that no one will read. No one will ever know I was here, sitting, writing... This would make a terrible movie in French or any other language... Yet somehow this causes everything. This moves me across an ocean to a new country and a new culture. It remakes me entirely. Maybe it's in these moments, our uneventful events, that we chose the effects of the causes in our life...

Wandering the bookstore later I saw some young kid, probably late teens, sitting in the upstairs room scribbling something in his notebook, periodically glancing up at the red rose laying on the desk in front of him.

Me: Are you writing about a girl?

He looks up at me and removes his white earbuds.

Teen: What was that?

Me: Are you writing about a girl?

Teen: Yeah... (with a crooked smile and a blond hair flip)

Me: That's fitting.

Then I walked away.

I should have said cliché. I said fitting but I meant cliché. Writing about love in Paris... why don't you try something new for a change. Why not write about food, or God, or violence, or racism, or family, or selfishness, or confusion, or biology, or patriotism, or personal hygiene, or suicide or anything but love. Actually I take back suicide, suicide and love are basically two faces of the same coin. Anyway, point is that as cliché as it was, it got me thinking. If I was sitting in a bookstore in Paris on Valentines Day looking at a red rose on and listening to... for the sake of argument let's say it was "With or With Out You" by U2... and scribbling furiously in my little notebook about love, what would I write? And the more I thought about it the more I felt that I had nothing to say.

I have forgotten how to Love.

OK that might not be entirely true. There is a very real possibility that I never actually knew how. But the important thing, the realization that I had, was that the only things I could write were questions.

Happy Valentines Day.


The Joshua Tree (Remastered)

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