Various Arrondissements Where I Find You
4 ème- She sat on the steps to Agudath Hakehilot in the Marais. I was coming to meet her for lunch and she waved with her black mittens when she saw me round the corner off Rue des Rosiers. It’s unseasonably cold for January and she told me she’s sweating on the inside. We discussed where we should eat and she tapped her toe to the sound of woodwind instruments. There is a parade nearby and we cannot hear each other speaking. I leaned my head against hers so I could arrange the words she spoke. There was a vague scent of lychee and roses surrounding her curly hair. We were both thinking falafel. She was talking when the music stopped. I was only able to hear the word, ‘chickpea’.
8 ème – I walked through a clothing store on the Champs-Elysees looking for something warm. There was a rack of black down jackets that all looked the same. As I made my way through them, I saw her in the corner of the store looking at the same jackets. She told me I really didn’t need to buy a jacket when I have such beautiful feathers. I felt the stitches near my shoulder blades open and white plumes emerge. She left as I began to sneeze a thousand sneezes.
15 ème – There was a dinner party in Montparnasse. I went because it’s required. When I arrived there was a big table in a rustic courtyard. She motioned for me to sit next to her so I could meet people. After some time passed, I reached for her arm and my hand broke off at the wrist. She took the detached hand and put it in my purse. She admitted to being a pro at fixing problems like this, so we left immediately. It was raining and she held onto my arm under the umbrella outside. I felt a tingle move down my arm when she let go. I looked at my leather shoes becoming two shades of wet.
18 ème – I was praying in a pew. Outside the Sacre-Coeur, it was sunny and warm and she was not there. I lit a candle for her and for my parents and for all the girls in my life. I saw a newly married couple taking pictures on the stairs. From a distance, I could tell she had long brown hair and wore red glasses. As I walked closer, I noticed she was taking pictures of me. I paused to put on sunglasses and throw away a tissue. She walked over to show me the photos. I found her standing by my side in each one, looking at me with a grin.
5ème – I was late for class at the university but there was no time to wait at the Place Monge stop. I ran up the street in my rubber boots and skipped the Metro. She had just started to lecture when the doors to the auditorium burst open. I was out of breath. She paused, acknowledging lateness. I begged her forgiveness in the form of gifts. She’d have nothing of it.
7ème - She frequented Café du Flore facing the church in St. Germain des Pres. It was her favorite because Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir used to hang out there. She thought I should like it too because I’m a writer. I just liked the pain aux raisin. I was starving but waited for her until the sun began to fade. She didn’t show up for hours. I began walking down the narrow road, leading away from the café. I looked over my shoulder to see her standing breathless, holding a paper sack. She said‚ ‘I made spaghetti for us’.
3ème – There was a draft coming in from the window. I noticed it’d snowed all night and a blanket of white covered anything that was once green. I took a walk down Vieille du Temple to find something sweet. On my way, I stopped for stamps. When I opened my coin-purse, I found only a handful of small pebbles and my feelings. I offered them to her as payment. She helped divide them evenly into neat piles on the glass near the register. We looked at them closely to see which ones were the most valuable. She pulled a feeling from my stack and put it in her pocket. She wanted to keep it safe. I wanted her to give it back and she did.
9 ème – I met a Talmudic scholar at Rashi Shul to discuss the platypus living in my heart. We whispered about the obtuse shape of my insides. He told me this is something only a robin bird can resolve. I heard sermons and thunder outside. Word harmonies were cantillated and the floors sighed from the weight of souls. She approached me as if we knew each other. She hugged me and stepped back, searching my face for a reaction. She leaned in again and placed her lips on mine, tugging at my bottom lip with her teeth. There was blood. She left love and compassion all over my mouth.