The Paris I love is the one I have all for myself – when everyone is asleep, comfortable in their beds. I don’t know where I am going. I don’t want to know where I am going and why – I want my feet and my mind to wander. To see what happens!
I went for a long walk one morning – almost seven miles. I stopped. I started. I walked. I ambled. I took a few photos. Mostly I was happy to be alone. It was so quiet – no people, no tourists, no cafes. Absolutely nothing but the sounds of a city yawning and waking up. I could hear the flutter of a pigeon’s wing as it took flight. I could hear the raven with a sore throat.
The lapping of the gentle waves of the Seine entered my senses – I could hear them as well as I could see them. I could hear myself breathe. It was all loud and as clear as the ringtone of an iPhone ringing in one of the apartments hidden behind the slats covering windows and a million stories behind them.
The cool air of the morning, long before it turns into a day full of heat and dust. I started in Place Des Vosges, the iconic square in Le Marais and walked to Ile St. Louis. I saw an early morning fashion shoot. I took a photo or two and then ambled all the way across. I got lost in the Latin Quarter. I ended up roaming more of Paris I hadn’t seen.
I came across two young girls listening to reggae music and dancing in the plaza across from a church. I couldn’t tell if they were still waiting to go home from the clubs or if this was what they did early in the morning. I paused for a minute – watch them being careless and carefree – trying to remember the times when such abandon was still something I wore on my sleeve.
It was a scene I would remember for a long time – not because it was a great photo, but it was a moment to remember. I took a few photos — they didn’t really capture what the mind saw. I shuffled, sweaty, with my feet hurting after all the walking. I saw the Polytechnique and the university. I walked through some neighborhoods where homeless slept with abandon, as some workers made their way out of the apartments. Going to work perhaps
Somethere on the Left Bank a farmer’s market slowly started to take shape. I see all the fruit and vegetable vendors set up their stalls. In the light of the morning you can see all the colors of Paris— its history, its present and perhaps its uncomfortable future.
I kept walking till I couldn’t walk anymore. I called an Uber and came back to my room.
And as I sat, cooling off under the slow moving fan, I was calmer. Silence has that effect on me. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to interact. I don’t want email or Twitter or Facebook. I want to walk alone in alleys, streets and boulevards of the mind – walking away from the last and thinking perhaps what is and what could be.
Paris, July 2nd, 2015