It’s a déjà vu. Today is my last day in Paris. My last day of summer vacations which means that this time I am really moving away. As much as I try to organize my days, there is always a lot remaining for the last 24 hours. I even decide to postpone my departure to early morning tomorrow, so that I can get through all that I have to do with no stress of losing the train.
The morning passes by doing mundane errands such as going to the bank, post office, pharmacy, buying my train ticket, etc. I pack my suitcase and realize that again, I have no space left. I am hopeless.
While I am drilling holes in the bathroom wall to fix something, I get a short sms: “Let’s meet for a coffee this afternoon”. I look at the message and don’t know what to respond. Part of me longs to see him and the rest wants to avoid with all cost. I know what is going to happen and I really cannot face it. While I struggle with the drill and the cement wall, I take my time to think. All my anger is transferred into drilling. In the end I make six perfect holes. “This is it”, I think to myself. I have no choice. I have to let him say what he has to say and get done with it. I have to meet him. After all, it is me who wanted to face the bull!
I arrive early to our meeting place. I want to convince myself that it will all go well. I trust him. If I know him correctly, there is no way he will make this an unpleasant encounter. But still, I feel my heartbeat getting faster and faster. I distract myself with the booksellers at the bank of the Seine. Further, I stumble on a street artist who is making giant soap bubbles. I open up the conversation with him just to talk and not have time to stress. Fortunately the guy is playing the game and starts to explain to me all the details of how to make giant bubbles, what kind of shampoo to use, etc. My heartbeat is approaching to a reasonable rate.
At last I see him arrive.
We meet and greet quite normally. Strangely (or not) I feel very comfortable. I start our conversation by explaining to him all that I have learned about soap bubbles. The soap-bubble maker also enters into the discussion by emphasizing that shampoos from Proctor and Gamble are the best! I guess neither of us really cares about this detail but well, the ice is broken.
We choose our “arena”, a nice Parisian bar à vin, and sit. I look at him carefully. He is wearing the pair of jeans that I have always loved on him and a gray t-shirt that makes the color of his eyes even more pronounced. I look at his hair, his beard, his perfect suntan … Today, I don’t steal my look from him. Today, finally I have nothing to hide. He knows how I feel. I am transparent. For this last occasion I am not going to shy away.
I don’t know if my stares make him uncomfortable or not. I don’t wish to be in his shoes. The few times that I have been, I have never taken pleasure. Inviting someone to tell them that you don’t have reciprocal feelings for them is not a pleasant thing to do.
We continue our discussion around a glass of wine. We speak as we have always done – mixing subjects, jumping from one branch to another. Joking and being serious at the same time. One hour has passed already. I wonder when will he drop the bomb. I tell him about my childhood experience with bombs. How we protected ourselves from shattering of the windows by putting scotch-tapes on them. Unlike my childhood though, today I am not protected by anything.
I notice he is looking at his watch. He can not stay too long, so he has to conclude, but I don’t want to let him. I fill up any blank moment in the conversation. I talk incessantly. At some point, while I am telling a story about chicks and cats I guess, he forcefully cuts me in and says: “Listen….”.
I realize there is no more escaping. I look at him and wonder how will he phrase the rejection. Of course he has come well prepared. He uses the same joke that I had made once in the past, to indirectly tell me that he is not available. I laugh at the joke. I laugh, while swallowing the pill. It is smooth but quite bitter.
I still continue speaking. He is confused and doesn’t know how to stop me. I mumble but what comes out of my mouth is not what I would like to say. I am blocked and paralyzed from inside. I curse at myself for being so timid but don’t fight it. None of what I have in mind will change the status quo. He has made his choice. Maybe its better to leave it at this. I don’t feel that he wants to know any more neither. He seems quite uneasy about the whole situation.
Our conversation continues for another hour, this time around politics and history, his favorite subjects. Then we get up to leave. As I kiss him goodbye, I wonder if there will be a next time that I could speak with him around a glass of wine. At this very moment I might be losing someone dear, even as a friend, and that makes a havoc inside. He waves me goodbye and says something that I can no longer hear. My emotions are taking over me. I just smile back, turn around and walk. I feel the pressure rising in my throat. I fight my tears. I had promised myself that I won’t cry, but I cannot keep my promise. The pressure of the past few years, and specially the past few months, are about to be released. I put on my shades and continue walking. Tears are running down my cheeks. I feel drained. I walk and walk aimlessly in the streets, not knowing where I am going. There is no force in my legs anymore. I come to my senses and look for a metro station. I surprisingly find myself walking in his street. I picture him in his apartment, busy with his daily routines. For him probably our afternoon session is now a closed chapter to be forgotten. I run to the metro and join my friends for dinner. I have no business being here.
The day is finally over. The so awaited conversation took place and I left the arena crushed but still alive.