August Saturday 14th - 2 :oo p.m. GMT
...2:12 p.m. GMT if i want to be precise -and i do, for it is the first thing you have to learn if you plan to have a coffee with a friend in Paris. Parisians have developed an interesting tradition, known as 'Le quart d'heure parisien', allowing you to be fifteen minutes late WITHOUT making your friend angry (actually, he or she would not even notice your lateness: the odds are good that he or she will be even later than you). But please note that, in fact, the famous 'quart d'heure parisien' is very well known throughout the entire country and changes its citizenship accordingly to where you are, as long as it is a city with a complicated urban network. Inhabitants of smaller towns are never late: they would feel rude, or ashamed, or sorry. Parisians don't. They are allowed. It's probably even written in some dusty thick law book, because lateness is systematic and if you need someone to be present at a very specific time, you'd better take this into account.
2:12 p.m. then.
At last! ¡ Un café con Fernando! And without the complication of having to find something interesting to say! And without having to vocalize it in an understandable English! What a treat!
After hours during which i had been searching my memory for a nice place to share a nice coffee with my nice co-writer, i finally chose...not to choose at all, and to let things happen.
Destiny sent me in the shape of a friendly red-haired young woman all the elements i would need to make this post a nice one. The perfect location, the perfect itinerary to get there and the perfect drink to choose.
As i am writing in my notebook, a neon sign saying 'Aux Folies de Belleville' is glittering above my head and facing me, and Axelle is busy drawing something gorgeous in my tiny Moleskine.
Axelle and i spent the morning helping a friend to get a few ikea items up on their feet (Fernando knows her, it will ring a bell if i say 'Claire'). As soon as all the books freshly moved to a new flat were able to find their way on brand new swedish shelves, we left, heading for Axelle's place where we fed Helios (the cat). And then, we went out once more, as it was nearly the time for my long awaited appointment.
A street named 'Rue Denoyez' gave us an incredible sight: its walls were entirely covered in huge drawings. That's how i found out that this very street was probably one of the few (if not the only one) in Paris in which street art was allowed.
Fernando and i have decided to take a picture of the bar, but i thought i could maybe extend the borders a bit and let my Blackberry enjoy being out of my pocket.
Isn't it funny, that the place Destiny and Axelle had chosen felt so 'New-Yorkish' to me?
After having filled our eyes with some of the finest pieces of street art, the cold raindrops which started to fall reminded us that it was time to fill our stomachs with a nice hot beverage and stepped into the bar. It's not the neon sign that first caught my eye, but the walls and tables, entirely covered in old scraps of newspapers, posters, playing cards, postcards, metro tickets and other flat and illustrated things of all sorts. I chose the table with an ace of spades right in the middle and we sat, smiling, but silent.
2:12, thirsty, tired, and happy to be here, i saw 'Chardonnay' written on a board above Axelle's head and thought i might cheat on the coffee and have a glass of wine instead (C'est tellement Paris!), but she reminded me that we have had nothing to eat yet and that wine would be potentially dangerous if we wanted to walk with dignity when leaving the bar. I had to admit that she was right and was about to order an innocent coffee when she told me 'Ils font un thé à la menthe marocain qui déchire'. Moroccan mint-tea! Now it had hit my head, it was as if i would never have allowed any other drink in my throat at this precise moment, so i ordered two of them.
I then pulled my notebook out of my bag, gave another one to Axelle, and as the bartender brought us a pair of steaming golden glasses, i solemnly started covering a lined page... Here i was then, my first 'coffee with Fernando'. I was looking forward to it, because i knew that i would be happy to sit alone in a bar knowing that somewhere in NYc, someone would be doing the exact same thing as me, thinking the exact same way, and that he would probably be enjoying it as much as i did. I was not alone, it's true, but this is something that has to be known about me: i choose my friends carefully and make sure that i feel comfortable enough with them to be 'alone' in their company if i want to. Alone, but not lonely. Once you've met someone you trust enough for that, your entire life becomes incredibly easy, incredibly soft and pleasant, and i am lucky enough to have a pleasant and soft life thanks to my friends. While i was writing, while i AM writing, i may not be 'with' Fernando, but i definitely am sharing a moment in a friendly company. What is the difference then?!
I wonder what Fernando is doing now? Is he having a coffee? He must be, yes: it's morning for him, and a coffee is the perfect thing to have in the morning.
Is there music in the place he has chosen? What is the weather today in NYc? Is he trying to figure out what i'm doing? Is he wondering if i'm wondering what he's doing?
I don't know. Yet.
Axelle's drawing is nearly finished, our glasses are empty, and i am happy because so far ( 4:oo GMT) this day has been more than perfect.
I'm going out tonight and i have to clean my flat for my parents' arrival tomorrow. They'll be staying for the week and i'm looking forward to visit a few new places with them, not for the pure pleasure of visiting places, but because i know i'll share every valuable discovery here.
I hope i'll have the time to type all this before leaving. If not, never mind, i will finish tomorrow. Who cares?!
The most important part of the job is done: i've had my first coffee with Fernando!