The whole time that I stayed at Sylvie’s, my mind and body were drawn to that large set of French windows in the living room of her apartment. I’d look across the cobblestone street and see a man sitting on his balcony with a cigarette in his hand looking off in a distance. I could hear a faint sound of music floating around his head, coming from the inside of his apartment. I’d look across and see people moving around through the windows of their apartments. They seemed busy and hurried all of the time. As I looked around, engagingly peering into everyone’s homes, I wondered why the French didn’t invest in curtains. I surely wasn’t protected behind one and I am sure that as well as I could see them, they would be able to see me. This didn’t scare me of course because I was so intrigued with the lives of Europeans who didn’t speak the same language as me but who engaged in the same daily rituals that I did. On empty days in Paris, when the people with whom I was staying with slept late, my bare feet would walk across the cold floor to that window and I would stare at the slick ice on the ground and the slow accumulation of snow near each opening on the street. My body would feel the coolness from the window numbing my nose and my fingertips and as my body longed for warmth, my mind just imagined situations of me being in love in Paris.
I didn’t know who he was, but he was gorgeous to me. He was a shadow in my imagination, of course, but I loved him dearly. We stayed in that little one room apartment on a secluded cobble stone street in the 10th arrondissement of Paris. We didn’t own a car or didn’t have much money, we just knew that we loved the city and we loved each other more. I was an artist of course, and most of my days were spent in that tiny apartment, writing and creating and peering out of that third story window waiting for this shadow of a man to come home. At 15:00, everyday, I’d sit on the ledge of those cool French windows and watch my shadow move through the cold rod iron fence that separated our apartments from the street. He would vigorously walk toward our apartment and looked up to see me waiting for him at the window. He would flash me a large smile until he was out of distance of my vision and I would run to the door and wait for him to walk up the three flights of stairs into my love. This is what Paris did to me. I have no idea why, or what, but as I sat against the cold of Sylvie’s window, I imagined love.
The few days that I stayed in Paris, when people figured out who I was or where I was from, I was automatically accepted. I couldn’t successfully communicate with them, but the welcome in their eyes spoke to me for days. My unique sense of fashion and thinking were not abnormal on the streets of Paris. In the Metro, I’d see women who were dressed in business suits, women who had on unique garb, traditional dress for different religions and jeans and coats. My mind raced while at the Roosevelt station of the Metro one evening. Sitting there in the cold, waiting for the train, I saw couples holding hands and keeping each other warm. At that point, I didn’t like the place that I was going back to. I wanted to stay on the streets of Paris with my head in the clouds. In Paris, I didn’t believe that my love, the person who I gave so much time and energy to, would just leave me without saying goodbye. In Paris, I’d wait for him on the ledge of my curtain-less large French window until I couldn’t see his shadow anymore. In Paris, I didn’t have to deal with the man that I loved wanting to have all kinds of other women hidden in back up waiting for me to fall. I wouldn’t have to worry about him communicating to them undercover and making me believe he wasn’t talking to anyone until I mistakenly found out and my heart shattered under the souls of his feet. In Paris, he would only love me and smile at me while I watched him floating toward my love through the nakedness of that cold French window.
I didn’t feel betrayed in Paris.
I wasn’t constantly rejected and called back when the indication of greener grass wasn’t green at all.
In Paris, I was loved, by everyone, especially my shadow, who shared that tiny apartment with me with the Cold, naked French windows.