Goodbye, bourgeoise, hello Bohemian. I have a new home in Paris. For the rest of August, I’m subletting an apartment on the edge of the 10th and 3rd arrondissement, not far from this arch:
Which is, just like it looks like, just sort of sitting there in the middle of an intersection. No more courtyards with symmetrically pruned trees.
No more gold bathtub.
To get to my new place, you walk down a street full of people — old men drinking coffee, hungover hipsters drinking coffee, black guys leaning on things, Lebanese guys leaning on things, a woman with a shawl begging, a man with a dog begging, children, adults, Halal butchers — until you come to a green door.
There are many green doors, so take the right one. The door leads to an alley. The alley leads to a door. That door leads to a flight of steps. This flight of steps has no loyalty to any particular plane; each step has its own slant. They feel like an Escher drawing. But if you climb them, you do go up. You pass many doors — more doors than there could be floors, but each one seems to have its own landing. Pick the right door. Go in.
Inside, there is art all over the walls, and a blue ladder to an attic bed. Blue in the paintings and the ladder and the couch, and big windows through which comes other peoples’ music and conversation and cigarette smoke. It is noisy, but not from cars. The kitchen is a cabinet with the sink and two burners on top and a dish cupboard and fridge inside. Brilliant! The oven, which looks like a microwave, is on its side with a bunch of pots stacked on top. To bake something, turn it over, put it on a board, plug it in. If you want food, go down the block to one of the fruit stores, or one of the supermarkets, or one of the butchers on the block.
So that is where I am right now, writing without any pants. It’s too hot today to write in pants. Or maybe I just don’t feel like wearing any. I can do that kind of thing in this kind of apartment.
Last night, I went down the street to hang out with a bunch of ex-pat writers. Everything I thought about Paris is true. There we were, six flights up in an apartment about the size of two queen size beds, with about two bottles of wine per capita. Someone always had a cigarette going, right inside the apartment! This isn’t America! We were talking about Identity. Right, but if identity is inherently constructed, can one ever say it’s not false?…. Sure, there is such a thing objectively as the self, but that’s not identity. According to Buddhist thought…. Then after some more wine, we deconstructed the sex tips from Cosmo and various men’s magazines, and explored the innuendo in the word “backyard.” Can you put any word after “backyard” and not have it sound like a euphemism? It seemed not. What about “backyard sex?” Still a euphemism for anal sex. Unless it literally meant sex out in your backyard….
All this before midnight. What happened later you’ll have to invent, because I left with Cinderella.