dimanche 5 septembre 2010

New Formula, with real Chardonnay inside

Saturday, September 4th 2o1o

Paris, 8:47 PM, local time

'New Formula' is what would be carved on today's brick if The Bridge was a bottle of shampoo, but if The Bridge was a bottle of Shampoo i wonder how it could have become any addictive unless i had started to inject its contents directly into my veins, which would have been extremely unhealthy and dangerous. Furthermore, in that case, what about the effects of a 'New Formula'? Would it be as addictive as the former? I wonder... Anyway! Enough with that nonsense. Neither The Bridge nor any of its bricks are or intend to become cosmetics...
Still, today's brick will follow a 'new formula' for Fernando and i decided to write our posts at 9p.m. local time, so that we could live the experience of a Saturday evening in both cities. I'm writing mine six hours before Fernando and i have the curious sensation that i will still be writing it when he'll start his. We'll see.

I wanted to write a few more posts this week, but have been so busy that they would have been written in a rush and would have looked awfully poor. Even though i'm not very confident about the quality of my posts so far, i would not want to add an inferior contribution knowing that it could have been better.

Tonight, i wanted to be in a place where they play loud music, because i've felt empty all day long. There is nothing to worry about when i mention this emptiness: emptiness has everything to do with my typically French melancholic nature (is it French, or is it just me? i don't know for sure, but i'd rather imagine that i suffer from a glamorous illness usually attributed to french poets!). Emptiness is something i go through quite often and it is a good thing, because when it is not linked to a state of total weakness, it awakens a hunger which almost always leads to great discoveries or astonishing peaks of creativity. Unless you are in the threatening company of a full fridge, you have to find something to make the cravings stop. White wine! It's what i wanted tonight. White wine and loud music. As i am (for once) all alone, i needed to find a place a bit earlier to make sure i would be able to get myself a nice table and seat. I found many seats actually: five high chairs plus the one i occupy, and a second table, all crammed in a corner against the stone wall and the bar. The barmaid just brought me the glass of Chardonnay i ordered when i arrived and it looks great on the wooden table, with my opened Moleskine.

No company tonight, neither real or virtual, except for the hypothetic text messages i might get on my Blackberry (i got rid of the Motorola: touch screen phones are evil!), which means that for the first time i'm going to have all the time i need to write, think and observe and THIS is dangerous because paradoxically, this emptiness i feel, once it's been filled by a few sips of white wine, will probably make me very talkative. In other circumstances, i would not have mentioned the awkward thing i experienced on my way to the bar, but as i have nothing better to do i might as well share it with you. It took me fifty minutes from my place to this little street in the 4th arrondissement (la Rue des Ecouffes) and as i was walking by the Louvre Museum, standing so tall and elegant in the evening air, i suddenly saw the light change.

In Dogville, Lars Von Trier mentions and illustrates these sudden changes of light that make you see the world completely different from one second to the other and i already knew how it felt but for once i had allowed it in as it took me by surprise so strongly without any logical or recognizable reason, at all. Now that i'm sitting here, safely hidden behind my glass of wine and in the noisy and soft cocoon provided by the hi-fi system, i can take the time to think back on that and try to describe the two, let us say three different ways of seizing Paris accordingly to your mood. Seizing, or being seized...

The first of these three ways is not significant because you don't even notice it and it's the whole point: neither good nor bad, certainly not intense in any way, you basically just let your little self and Paris live around that little self of yours without even seeing the correlation between both. Passive. 'Daily'.

The second way is the 'good' way through the magnifying lens. Whether 'good' and 'bad' are correctly used here will only rely on your very own perception of it. To me, 'good' in that context is not 'better than bad'. I just split the second way in two because thus labelled, both effects (both sides of the same medal in fact) will be more easily remembered and it is very important that you remember them if you visit Paris one day, as they are the symptoms you will have to identify at some point if you don't want to be frightened by their sometimes unbearable strenght. Good then. Why good? Good because at these moments you see Paris just as if you were in a happy musical. Everything looks bright, light and easy, deep and magnified. Everything seems possible, self-confidence fills your lungs and head up to the brim and you fill like you could fly to the Moon and come back within the hour happy as a King. Upwards.

The third state, the 'bad' one is identical in strenght and intensity, but goes downwards. You are at the bottom of a deep well and every drop of light pouring down from the sky weights a ton. The light itself is crude and cold, sharp as the edge of a shell and seems to reveal every imperfection around and within you. The buildings you once were looking at in amazement and used to find so reassuring now look threatening, all the doors are shut, all the sidewalks are the edges of immense cliffs and the cars, you thought as exciting as busy ants running all over the place are now a cold stream sucking you down to dive in its tumultuous depths.

Today, as i was walking by the Louvre, i went 'up' and 'down', five or six times in a row, without any reason, for the first time since i've settled in Paris and the cadence seemed to increase as i was trying unsuccessfully to understand what i was going through.

Enough with the lyrical digression and back to where i am now...

Fernando, my dear friend, you are tonight having a drink in a place where i used to work during my first Summer in Paris, and so that you can start choosing something else from the menu, i have to tell you that the malediction hit again: there's no coffee here either. I used to complain about that, the absence of coffee: when you're working in a bar from 6p.m. to 2a.m., you'd fancy a cup of strong coffee. Instead, you have a gin & tonic, because of the promising sight of the word 'tonic', but you eventually end up more tired than anything else. I used to work here as a barmaid and was mostly ordered pints of white beer in which i was expected not to add a slice of lemon, which was really an horrifying sight.

It's funny how human beings seem to need to go back to where they've spent time in the past, even though they did not enjoy it, as if it were so very important to 'go back to the scene of the crime', to witness once more what happens in the location in which they've been so very much strangers to themselves. Not by choice, maybe, but does it matter? Once you've done something, the experience, the taste of it, the things that have been moved in you remain, why then the fact that you did not choose it would make it any less noticeable or any less important?
When you're only just a client though, It's a nice place, where they play very loud music. In Paris (everywhere really), it often means 'bad music', but here, more than 7o% of the playlist is actually pretty good. Jazz now, and Luis Armstrong. Sting and The Police a couple of minutes ago as i was ordering my third glass of Chardonnay...

Funny, 4th Cafe with Fernando and it feels like it is the first time i really think about what it feels like to have the luck to share this with someone living so far from here. I should do it more often: be alone. Not that i don't like the moments i've spent with Axelle: they were, they are fantastic and i hope, and feel and know that there'll be more of them, but tonight, i'm glad to be here alone.
Paris is a strange city. In my imagination, New York city is located somewhere in the future, some place in the present while Paris is lying in the past: every day new, but every day freshly old, so very old that you would be allowed to wonder whether it has been young one day, and the answer is: No, Paris has never been young.

In French, when you are caught deeply lost in your thoughts, your are 'une personne grave', 'grave' (serious) is spelled exactly like the english word for 'tomb': Paris is an old and 'grave' city, rising from its tomb every day just like a vampire would, and enjoys sucking your blood until you die of draught: emotional, artistic, human draught.

In fact, and it's the first time i realize that, Paris is exactly like me tonight, exactly like any of its citizens: it's a leaky jar, dry, empty and dying to be filled...

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