writing directly from my journal, photos taken by me
Ciaffy and I took an uber to JFK after chowing down on Thai food. The flight was bumpy, and our reserved window seat was snatched up by a man who only spoke french. He was twisting and turning his body and edging me out of my space, my neck strained from leaning it on Ciaffy’s shoulder. We switched seats with three hours left- leaving my cobalt fleece blanket behind and ripping open the plastic packaging on a new one. We slept better in the new seats, right at the front of the plane with ample leg room. We woke briefly to a tray of breakfast, only the small, stale role of bread was edible. The rest was canned or not vegan. We ate our bread alongside marmalade nestled in little plastic peel-back containers. We fell back asleep with the tray on our laps and woke up with ten minutes until touchdown and the trays nowhere to be found.
We both fell asleep in the cab on the way there and I woke suddenly to our driver honking viciously at a reckless moped darting over the cobblestone street. I peered over the front seat and saw only seven minutes left until our destination. I perked up best I could, staring out the window at the silver and greys of buildings ornately embellished like Italian wedding cakes.
The cab let us off in front of a flower shop with bunches of fragrant pink roses. Our apartment was right above. We called Cybelle, who emerged from the double chestnut doors wearing a turtle neck and cropped white pants. I engulfed her in a hug and we spiraled up stair steps that were either too close or too far apart. The apartment was quaint, raw wooden beams and a comfy bed. The best part is the bathroom. White tiles, low ceilings, and a tub with a soft interior and a rigid exterior. The windows garmented in soft lace curtains to shield moonlight and the mirror makes you look at your face as if it was a portrait.
We dumped our stuff and marveled at the space. As soon as we got there we were back out the door—- over bridges, past Notre Dame, past gelato and alleys and down by the Louvre. We found a cafe called Lou Lou’s and each got a caffeinated cup poised against a glossy red circular table. We wandered for a while— I found a thrift store and a fuzzy olive green hat for jut 4 euro.
Footsteps along the river, we sat beneath a weeping willow for some time. Staring out at the water and watching boats diverge to either our left or our right. Everything felt perfect.
Dinner was from the grocer two doors down— baguettes, artichoke, grapes with three seeds in each, jam, vegan cheese, hummus, and arugula. We poured wine into crystal glasses and go tot mix-matching flavors. Ciaffy fell asleep promptly on the couch. We got in the bath (me, Reni, Cyb) and I opened up a cheesy book, “Almost French,” and read three chapters aloud. We all dried off, skin hot and peachy and everyone came into the bed. I read the final chapter- tiring out my listeners and myself. My voice felt detached form my mouth- floating like specks of dust in he air. It sounded raspy and low pitched and like an act. I myself, drifted into sleep.
We wake up in the dark, but it’s not early at all. We were out the door and walking along the river, the sun popped out at 8:15. After two miles we stopped at Cafe Flor and got extremely overpriced espressos. I marveled at my chipped red nails against the glossy green bistro tables. Parisian diet is: coffee, baguettes, pastries, fruits, and some vegetables. With new found energy, we got a baguette for one euro and continued our trek to the Eiffel Tower. The walk up was four miles in total with hazy mist and the river to our right. The area around the tower was vacant. We got our tickets to the summit- 14.50 for a youth (ages 12-24). For some reason it made me feel relieved that in this ticket purchase I wasn’t grouped in with the adults. We waited briefly in line and climbed up the south leg in a glass elevator. Nervousness bubbled in my belly-the ascension put my teeth on edge. We stopped on the first tear and exited. I wandered counter clockwise around staring out at buildings with shutters, soft golden patchy light, and people that looked like ants.
Spyglass style telescopes dappled the edges. One our to see what you are missing down on the ground or spy on park goers. Kind of a strange concept. Pay 14.50 to go up, then another euro to look back down. Can we ever reach contentment? Is one awe just not enough? A man asked me for a euro so his boy could press his peachy little face up to the eyeglass.
I said no, that I had no money.
We escalated again to the summit. By this time it was getting crowded and a bit chilly. My toes were turning cold in my shoes and my teeth clenched to keep from chattering. I braced myself and walked out to the permitter, guarded by a fishnet fence. The diamonds were just large enough to stick your face through so that’s what I did.
Now staring down at mazes and patterns of buildings and streets, hazy little light and people that looked like dust on a film photo. It was 12 and all I had eaten was a coffee and 1/4 of a baguette. We took the metro to Gentle Gourmet, a vegan spot that promised chocolate croissants and macaroons— according to yelp and Ciaffy’s 16-year-old memory. To our disappointment— although none of us showed it— they had neither. Their menu boasted tofu polenta for 22 euro or a meatless meatball appetizer for 15. We scanned the menu, restaurant, and waitresses for any sign of chocolate croissants. We opted for a pear macaroon and a fig raspberry cake. Bite by bite, we were left with one red stained plate and one green.
We walked back home, over bridges and through cobble stone streets that sprung off into flowery courtyards. Once home we prepared our usual meal. Baguette, hummus, arugula, artichoke, vegan cheese, and jam. We each drank a flute of bubbly champagne. I downed it and wondered where my bubbly feeling was. I checked the label, “Sans Alcohol,” it said proudly above a curvy cut cream label gilded with a single painted peach. We laughed and I grew tired. I laid down for “just a little” and fell into sleep.
Cybelle came and joined me, we slept for two hours. When I woke Ciaffy had left. I vaguely remembered her saying something about turning her location on so I checked. She was just a few blocks away. We diverged, first to gelato (framboise) then to an english bookstore. Books were crammed in every crevice and a menu promised vegan options. We made our way back to the city side- I splurged on sleepwear and lingerie. We found Ciaffy and went back through dimly lit streets and water color skies.
We stumbled upon a thai place spilling over with verdant foliage and amber light. We split two pad thais between the four of us and mixed it with “perfumed rice.” The server smiled and said how she used to eat “spaghetti and rice” as a little girl. I happily lapped up the combo of peanuts, lime, and oil. We wandered back to the boulevard, by the carousel and rain streaked cobblestone. We dipped into the liquor store for two bottles of wine and chocolate wafer cookies.
We downed the bottle and Ciaffy went down for the count. I set an alarm for her to wake up and join us- 13 minutes. She signed in my journal a contract that she would get up and meet us around the corner.
Me, Reni, and Cyb left the apartment and headed to “two angels.” Actually a hotel but we call it two angels for secrecy sake and because there are two baby angels about an inch high etched on the west window. The courtyard is beaming a neon pink glow and white decorative tables and chairs cluster together. The inside has a front desk to the right and the bar around the left corner. We chose a velvet mustard booth beneath a portrait of a woman in a wispy white dress. We sat around and were served by Alex, a university student originally from Paris but just back from an internship in Washington D.C. Later in the night when I asked him his opinion on Donald Trump, he responded “as a diplomat, I cannot have an opinion,” and then hinted at his love for Bernie Sanders.
We got an array of green, amber, and red liquors in clear flute. Alex even commented on how pretty the color combination was as he placed them before us. unfortunately- his combination of liquor to sparkling water was poured with a heavier hand on the former, and I balked at my first sip. We asked for seltzer to water it down with. I passed off my chartreuse to Reni— too weak to drink it myself. We sat around two candles flickering our shadows across the table top and wrote in our journals. I had around me a pink glass of spritz, a dark void of espresso, and a cocktail of fruits and nuts discoing in a bowl and dancing from our fingertips to our lips. We sat for hours and were about to pay when Ciaffy jovially joined us at our table. We ordered more drinks and teasing Alex asked for a tour of the hotel. He jumped to agree, raising a finger and telling us that “it would be just a moment.” We giggled in the confines of our booth.
The group of LA Parisians had left, taking their botoxed cheeks, fake tans, bleached hair, and chocolate lab with them. There was no one else in the cocktail lounge and it was nearing 1 am, so that’s perhaps why Alex obliged, but he told me later it was because we were American. He led us to an elevator and told us he would take the stairs. In the time it took us to ascend three flights he had climbed three flights of stairs and was promptly waiting outside the sliding open doors.
We first saw a room ordained in rose wallpaper with a porcelain bath and a modern phone made to look like a dial up one. I ran over to the window and hung my head out, marveling at the neon glowing courtyard below. The four of us oohed and ahhed and expressed admiration. Alex looked truly flattered and proud to be working there. He made sure we noticed all the little details and talked about how the Hotel’s status had recently risen form a 3 star to a 4 star and was ranked in the top 6 in Paris.
He took us to another room cloaked in rose walls, and another in cheetah print. We went to the elevator once more for the last stop on our list. He apologized profusely before we entered— telling us that Vogue Paris had shot in this room and it was a bit messy. We squealed, and confused he asked “is that okay?” Uh. Yes.
The room was immaculate, only the bed unmade. We danced around the grand room with glee. We all jumped on the bed and I thrusted my film camera into Alex’s hands. In-between snapping the second and third photo he smiled and said “this is just like Vogue.”
We wandered back home, joyously recapping and claiming these memories we just made as unforgettable. We drew a bath, poured more wine, and all four of us puzzle pieced into the bathtub. I read some more “Almost French” until we decided it was time to sleep.
This morning’s mission as croissants. We wandered into the Marais, passing a grotesque new age are building that looked like the innards of a robot. A windy cobblestone street hurried in soon after, apologizing for the eyesore with baguettes and marzipan fruit and bundles of flowers. We went to Cloud Cakes for a vegan croissant.
It was to be a day of cafes.
The next cafe, Ciaffy got a baguette to split and a box of marzipan fruit. We admired them for a while and then ate them from the ones we liked the least to the ones we liked the most. The cherries were last. We left empty espresso cups behind and set off to cafe #3.
We went to Shakespeare bookstore. I flipped through Lolita and caused a scene with Ciaffy pretending we were long lost friends that found each other in Paris. I burst out of the bookstore and practically smacked Cami in the face with the glass door. I screamed like a drunk girl at a party seeing her sorority sister and hugged her. She was squeezing my hand throughout our journaling session outside, and I suggested we go get Kirs.
Onto cafe #4.
We sprinted through the rain stained streets reflecting back red lights and found a covered cafe with heat lamps. We each got a blackberry kir. And then a peach one. We were out on the streets drunk as can be, yelling and laughing at the top of our lungs. Came kept turning around to me and saying “I must be dreaming!” We stumbled upon a museum— Cyb peeking in intrigued. Cami came up behind us and exclaimed that this is where she was taking us. It’s a five or six story collaborative art gallery with writing and paint all over the walls of a winding staircase. Each level had a different clutter, sculpture, and color to it.
We went up and up and on the top level I stopped and stared out the window. Looking down at sandwiched buildings, a grey-blue sky, and patches of warm pink from the sun bleeding through the clouds. I marveled at how perfect life was in that moment.
We went home and made our typical dinner. Baguette, hummus, vegan cheese, grapes… you know the drill. Also accompanied by yet another bottle of wine. Feeling so tipsy a boy named Sonny told Cami he was just around the corner. I giddily agreed to meet him, dragging the rest of the group along. I brought my crystal goblet with me— a LOOK. Sonny was with two other boys who seemed largely uninterested in making conversation. The staff at the table also looked particularly annoyed questioning my goblet and arguing with us in french.
I left that group or they left us and we went somewhere we would be accepted with open arms— Two Angels. We plopped in our regular booth and were served by a sharp-tongued, short haired girl named Billie Jean. She sat at a table among some other guests and shouted across the room “If you need me I’m over here!” We all complimented her on how cute she was, to which she sashayed and spun around and said “I know, you are so lucky to have me as a server.”
We went back home and drew a bath. Cyb and Cami got in and I read to them. They laughed and splashed each other. I was sitting in my soft pink robe and fluffy slippers. The door opened and Ciaffy’s friend Paul walked in. A sober pawn stepping into a drunken battle field. He rolled with the punches quite well, allowing us to paint his nails and rejuvenate his skin with a rose face mask. I laughed so hard that night.
Over what I’m not too sure.