Across Canal Saint Martin we traverse. A bar by the water. La Patache. My friend, I see him through the front windows.
“A table for three.”
I look around, disoriented from the cold. Great vibes. Bubbling. My girlfriend spots a table in the back. We sit.
2 Camden IPAs and a glass of red.
I’m here, thought I saw you, but now I don’t. A message displays on my phone. It’s from him. My friend. Sounds morbid. Or romantic even.
I laugh and show him.
Polite talk. Small talk. As the glass empties, the depth increases. I ask about people back home. All good, he says.
It’s always; ‘All good,’ or ‘Nothing much.’ Our friends and family are ageing and our cities are becoming unrecognisable. It’s true. While Seattle’s skyline grows higher, New York’s roots of gentrification stretch outward. Paris’s new ‘à la mode’ neighbourhood, in contrast, seems like something of a dart toss.
He asks about the situation in France. Pretty f***ed, we say. Stay away from Etoile tomorrow, I tell him.
2 Jupiler’s and 1 Camden IPA. The server makes a joke in French. My girlfriend laughs. I didn’t get it. They look at me, waiting for a response. ‘He’s really gotten better at French though,’ she says.
Means a lot . (*Love you*)
The adjacent table has finished their charcuterie plate.
Talk turns to heavier issues. My friend’s divorce. My friend’s life before his year around the world. He’s very open about it. He wonders why we’re not married yet. Many ask. Yet, I’ve never asked myself.
Talk shifts to his travels. Says it’s been great. Great times. He has photos. And he really liked Portugal, though his phone was stolen in Lisbon.
After that, I can’t remember. We finish our drinks. We pack up. We leave.
A cat sits, perched on a shelf, overlooking the bar. My friend and I step out. My girlfriend stays. She pets the cat. Outside he tells me how much he loves being single. How much he’s loved traveling while being single.
Paris, living in Paris is pretty cool still.
It’s the golden age for being single, my roommate in New York once told me. Now, he’s in a relationship.