We turn off the canal,
And pass the intersection of Rue Bichat and Rue Alibert–Le Petit Cambodge on the SouthEast corner, the hospital on the North–there are flowers, candles, pictures from loved ones in memoriam of the 2015 shootings.
Soap suds, draining water; circa 2015 I worked as a bar-back for an indie movie theatre in Seattle. I was scrounging, saving for a two-month trip to Paris. My phone blinks with a message. It’s my gf. She’s trapped in a bar in Montparnasse, desperate, waiting for news.
3 years later, we’re together, standing on the corner where it happened.
We continue into the night.
Two slight lefts along a wide Boulevard that scales the hospital. The bar rests on a corner, the HasBeen.
An L-Shaped bar. High-tables near the front, full, but not crowded. The bar at the heel. 2 bartenders.
We salvage a low, leather loveseat at the far side. Squeezing three. I sit on the armrest to abate my oncoming fatigue.
The drink menu consists of ‘house’ cocktails. Standard drinks with an ingredient thrown in, basil, honey, etc., to mask low-grade alcohol with a dulcifier.
I’ll take a Moscow Mule. It’s been a while hasn’t it?Crisp, sure, sugary too, but it’s not bad for the price.
Surveying the room; it’s not a dive bar in the colloquial sense. Less grunge, more catwalk.
A large group of Parisians occupy a 12-person table. Black turtle-necks. Colourful air max 95’s. Friends from a high-ranked university, meeting for their bi-weekly drink and dance where they find themselves smoking cigarettes outside of a small boite de nuit at 3am before pairing up for the night.
Small squadrons of 3 or 4 separate and hover around the bar to converse with the barmen.
My focus shifts back to the loveseat.
The girls gang up on the Londoner. He’s a talker, but he’s younger. And they’re old friends. He doesn’t stand a chance against their prying, their frank questions with hidden motives.
I motion to get another drink.
At the bar,
Je voudrais un Negroni svp. (I’d like a Negroni please.)
A balding 50-something year old with a stubbled beard camps at the pine. In a heavy French accent, he asks,
Where are you from?
American. But I live here.
Ah oui, and you’ve been here for how long?
Depuis 6 mois. (For 6 months)
Has it really been that long? What do I have to show for that time? A couple of blog entries and a certificate for A-2 French. Restaurants that I frequent. A small group of (potential) friends from ecole, whom I’ve only shared beers with. I think a lot about whether this was a good move for me. This move to Pairs. Whether I take it for granted, after all, it’s the immovable feast. To live in Paris. To understand Paris. It’s priceless.
6 months, has it really been that long!?
The barmen returns to the pine.
A rock’s glass with ruby red liquid, and on top, curved like a capsized canoe, drifts an orange peel.
Bon soiree (Have a good night).
The drink is bittersweet. When I finish, we decide to move.