there are things you know you need to do.
by which i don’t mean the honorable, upstanding things, but the thoroughly stupid, senseless, impractical ones. the things people will warn you away from doing precisely because they seem to make no sense.
but these people, they do not see the story of which these stupid, senseless, impractical things may later one day be a part. i am blessed/cursed. i see the story.
it hadn’t occurred to me that i needed to go paris until i was alone in new york.
this was in march, early in my first doomed attempt to locate the top shop at the corner of broome and broadway that, despite two subsequent trips and copious billboards attesting to its existence, i have still never found. when i walked out of washington square park at the intersection of 4th and mcdougal, the light hit the pavement in such a way that can only be described as a very poor imitation of cimetière du montparnasse on 27 september 2009.
seeing that, there was no way i could not go to paris.
that sounds beyond ridiculous when you try to explain it: i’m a biographer writing this book about jackie in paris that i’m really not writing because there’s no there there, but i know in my soul that i’m meant to go to paris because the light in new york just wasn’t pretty enough.
dude! crazypants! and yet…
going to paris is part of the story. if not jackie’s then mine. i clung to that belief for months. practicality be damned, i was going to paris! and i did.
while in london last month, i hopped over to paris for thirteen hours. systematically, i hit the high points of that city i love, all the while eyes peeled for whatever it was that was going to make sense of the fact that i was there.
and i got nothing.
jackie’s houses were uninspiring and my travels uneventful. the little cafe outside notre dame where, two years before i’d had The French Fries of My Life, had since removed them from the menu.
at one point, desperate, i picked up a rock from a walkway by the eiffel tower because then, if i returned without a tale, without words, i’d at least have something tangible from this trip to hold in my hand.
with two hours left- annoyed, tired and with terribly sore feet- i collapsed on a bench in the back garden of notre dame. half an hour later, my story sat down on the opposite bench.
this is a useful metaphor. or at least i choose to see it as such because it is evidence that i am not crazy. paris was part of the story. and the story is always there, whether it looks as we imagine it will or not.
[need more paris? go HERE.]