France, Part 6
It takes 24 hours to get the results, they told me. 24 fucking hours. That is way too long, I said. They told me, in so many more words, “Deal with it,” and cast me off into an insufferable isolation. Unnerving tension and all I can do is just sit here staring at the wall, thinking, “Why here, why now?” No one knows. I feel more alone than I ever have in my life. I just keep looking at the clock, wondering, “When will it be time?” Not now.
I went outside, I met with Raoul at Vin et Marée. I was ghost white, maybe even a little translucent and ethereal. He knows something is up. He poked my clavicle with his finger to get my attention but I was unresponsive and increasingly more cogitative and pensive, to the point where our conversation was getting one-sided. He told me a funny story about his girlfriend visiting Austria and accidentally brushing her teeth with hemorrhoid cream. Of all people in France, I should be laughing the hardest at this–haw haw, we’re talking about cream for a big nasty pustule on your butthole–but I’m only half there, enough to make the remark that she ought to rub toothpaste on her hemorrhoids and see where that gets her. I was so distracted but at the same time, my mind was blank. I can’t believe this is happening. Why now. Why me. Why here.
I try to be positive and think about how free I will feel when everything is fine. When the plastic wand shows that little negative sign. How relieved I will be.
I walked down to Rue de Rivoli. That’s where the shopping district is. I needed to get sneakers because I don’t have anything to work out in. Parc de la Villette has equipment for working out. On Rivoli, there is a shoe store called Courir, which is the infinitive form of the verb “to run.” I saw a pair of high-top Pumas that I liked, but my whole game with language was expectedly very off at the moment, and so I said to the guy, “Je voudrais ces chaussures taille… sept et midi?”
This translates to something like, “I would like these shoes in size 7 and noon.”
So I immediately caught myself and corrected my mistake. “Pas midi, DEMI.” (“Not noon, half.”)
Except I was giving him an American size. Which is silly. He looked at my feet for a moment to figure out if I was giving him a British or American size. Does she have large clown feet? No? Must be American. Also because, you know, she’s stupid as fuck. My mind finally broke out of anxiety prison for a brief moment or two and I laughed for the first time in what felt like several days. “J’aime bien les couleurs des lacets… bleu, rose, noir!” (“I like the colors of the shoestrings… blue, pink, black!”) I thought about how funny this would sound if I were in the US saying this in a shoe store. And thought about how I could possibly say what I was saying in the French equivalent of a retard voice. And then realized whatever voice that was… it was probably the voice I was speaking in already. I just kept tacking on more and more obvious things to say. “Derrr, je porte les chaussures sur mes pieds.” (“Durrrr, I wear the shoes on my feet.”). I wished Raoul had been there, because I don’t know how far I would have taken the charade in the company of a friend.
I got home late evening. As I was sitting on the couch in David’s living room, staring out the balcony door in another foggy haze of mindfuckery, Chris called me and broke up with me. I knew it was coming, but no matter how much I anticipated it, I couldn’t really prepare myself for it. I wanted to tell him what’s going on, but I knew I couldn’t. It felt selfish in the moment. Just about as selfish as it would be for me to share with him that I’m pretty sure I’m in love with him and that’s what’s driving me to keep this to myself. And more than any upset I feel right now over that, the harshest part of it is knowing I have this weight on me and literally not a person in the world I can talk to about it.
No one knows what to tell you in situations like this. You read a book about traveling to Paris and it’s all about going to the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower and, at worst, what to do when some shrewd thief in a little bandit mask sneaks up behind you in the Metro and pickpockets your huge bulging wallet from your back pocket. No one writes about the crippling disquiet of not knowing what’s going to happen next in the midst of a shitstorm, when you’re all on your own for the first time in your life. I expected this whole thing to be like me going abroad and having to learn how to meet new people and learn a language and go through that whole anti-piracy sequence in Monty Python’s Flying Circus where you have to be able to discern gouda from edam cheese. Not going abroad and learning how to cope with something that could potentially change the way I live the rest of my life. Ugh.
Everyone knows that I’m freaking the fuck out right now. But they don’t know why. They know it’s out of character for me. If only they knew that really, keeping it inside of me like this… is so totally consistent with my character, that it’s not nothing. That it’s a whole lot of something.