We need in love to practice only this: letting each other go. For holding on comes easily–we do not need to learn it. ~Rilke

Oh, life. I have been in a weepy panic  for the last two days as a result of many things… money, language obstacles, baking frustrations, too much partying, glimpses of falling for someone.

Cleo came to town last week with her friend Rob. It was so amazing to have her here. We had so much fun. Spent our days walking around, drinking beer in cafes, going to Versailles. She met my friends, we cooked dinner, and went out to Candelaria. Every night was soaked in wine. Friday was so far one of my favorite days in Paris. I met my friend Charlie at the market in the late morning. We bought cheese, olives, white asparagus and babaganoush for a party that night. The day was sunny, a rare thing these days. I was hung over but happy. After the market I met Cleo and we went to Merci for lunch and the Isabel Marant sample-sale after. I bought a beautiful dress I can’t really afford. Charlie texted that this boy, a painter I had hooked up with, might come to the party. It gave me a small thrill. I had met him a few weeks before during an afternoon and evening of  frolicking, good music, and alcohol. We had kissed on the street late at night. A few days later he came over to my apartment. We had talked and laughed and rolled around for hours then gone for a walk by the canal.

Friday night Cleo, Rob, Iris and I  went to a few galleries with Charlie then went back to his house for the champagne blitz. I have yet to go to a party at his house where the night doesn’t end up being dusted in glitter.  The music was fantastic, the dim lights dusky with smoke, and the bubbly flowed and flowed. When the painter boy walked in I had such a nice buzz and felt girly and pretty. Cleo and Iris said he couldn’t take his eyes of me, and I was so giddy and a little nervous. I was happy that they met him because it’s always nice when your friends can put a face to your stories. I kept winking at him. We stood by the window, smoked a cigarette, and talked. Eventually the  party moved to some brief dancing in the Marais and  debauchery at the duplex. Everyone around seemed light and happy. It was crowded, and I talked with some cute gay boys from Brazil. The boy and I stepped outside and kissed on the street, where we had first kissed. At the end of the night we left in search of a cab and shared a ride with an English couple that had managed to hail the only cab around. We rode with them all the way to  St. Germain and back. It felt like we went on a little trip.  The boy told me some of his stories, one in particular was very sad. He had begun to tell me that afternoon at my house but had stopped. I think he needed to tell someone. In the morning I left his home feeling sort of undone.

Saturday, Cleo, Iris,  Rob and I sat by the Canal and had lunch then walked to a bookstore. That night more friends arrived, High School friends from Puerto Rico. One of them I hadn’t seen in at least ten years. I was so excited to see them but woke up sad on Sunday. Cleo and Rob were leaving that morning. I had barely slept in the past days. Lack of sleep always gives me a brief but intense (is there any other kind) existential crisis. My life has been feeling so sparkly and it hit me hard how transitory things are here as an expat. Most of the people I have met are leaving in the coming months. The boy, in an ironic twist of fate, is moving to LA in two weeks.

The day was cold and gray.  I got home after saying goodbye to Cleo and Rob and cried with my roommate Katie. I had wanted to cry when I left the boy’s house on Saturday morning but I was so dehydrated there were no tears to be shed. I had wanted to cry because Saturday morning there was more I wanted to say but I was too hungover and needed to get back to my friends. I had wanted to cry because it had been so long since I had felt sweetness and connection, since I had felt warmth and tenderness, and sometimes there is nothing like feeling someone else’s skin next to yours. And though I was ready to call it a day and turn myself in for a good night’s sleep I texted him that I knew it was complicated but that I wanted to see him one more time.

I walked  into his tiny garden apartment  knowing I would never see him again but wanting one more night.  In Spanish one of the words for sex is “polvo” which means dust or I suppose in the case of sex may mean to dust. It was a night full of magic dust. We listened to a radio station that played old vinyl records that crackled as Billie Holiday sang. I told him about my past loves and he told me more of his story. It is not mine for me to tell so I won’t share it here. When I told him about Leo and about Italy he said that I set fire inside people. That I had set one in him and that he hoped I found someone really good, who really loved me and could give me all I wanted. We talked about art and baking and writing. We talked about sex, love, learning French, France, Puerto Rico, Africa, and LA. We looked into each others eyes for minutes on end as if playing an unspoken game of blink. Is there a word for when your skin shimmers with electricity while engaged with someone? Surely there must be.

This boy and I are twelve years apart. We told each other it would never be and that we would never forget each other. And like an Erykah Baddu song he said,” maybe we will meet next life.”

“Maybe we know each other from the previous one,” I said.

“Yes, maybe,” he said in his frenchy English.

“I like that,” I said. “Some people come into your life for a brief moment and you never see them again but you carry them with you forever.”

“You already live in my mind and my heart,” he said.

In the morning he went out for croissants and came back with a bag of oranges. He made me juice. He said he couldn’t see me his last week in Paris because he was afraid we would completely bond. Now, writing this, I know he is right.

We had breakfast and talked more about art. He showed me the project he is working on. We took a shower, hugged tightly, and said goodbye. I left his house thinking I had just lived a Parisian dream. It felt perfect. A beginning, a middle, and an end. The afternoon at my house, a few weeks earlier, before I knew anything about him it had felt light and airy. Light and airy is what I wanted but instead it became one of those moments that surprise you, that you can’t quite understand. Why did I meet this person? I walked around for hours in the rain. Maybe hoping to run into him. I texted him that I was sad and that I would never forget him and he wrote back that he had listened to a Gainsbourg song all day and thought of me. That he was sorry that it had to be that way. I wrote back and said that it was perfect. That I just wanted to tell him he had touched my heart before he disappeared completely. And just as I did when I was 26 I cried and listened to a lot of Jeff Buckley. Of course it is hard to let it go, to not be shaken to the core by it. It was like a  movie.

I cried all day with Iris as we walked in search of a mixer for me to buy. I cried as we ate a cookie and drank coffee at Kookaburra, and she sweetly told me mine were better.  We met our friend Caroline for dinner. When I told her about my entanglement she said, “even though in our heads we know better it doesn’t mean somewhere deep in us we don’t wish it could somehow work.”

Italy had written me earlier in the day. And I had written back that it was truly, fully time to let go, that it didn’t do anyone any good to not move on. I told him he had been a great inspiration to me. He told me that meeting me had been important to him and that he would never forget it.

I vacillate between feeling so whole and happy for the experiences just as they are and wanting to keep them close, but holding on to things takes away the quality in them that makes them a celebration of life and turns them into questions and tears. Of course, the residual sadness has to be mourned but then it has to be allowed to swirl under the stars.

On the way home from dinner Iris said, you have been here two months and you have already had this beautiful thing happen to you. I think Paris is telling you that this is where you need to be. And it does feel like that. It feels like the one door left opened has closed so I can fully step into Paris. My brief French love reminded me of who I want – someone with an open, kind heart, an engaging mind, a great sense of humor, and massive sex appeal. This week from Cleo to my friends from home and everything in between helped me define what it is non-negotiable when it comes to my love life. I want someone who loves me just as I am. All the good bits and the not so good parts. Leo could never do that and Italy wouldn’t allow himself to fall into it. I don’t want to convince anyone that they should love me. I’ve never had to convince my friends. I want love to gravitate to me just as they have.

There is so much more that I could say but that is the gist of it. There are friends still here that I must go meet.  I needed to write it all down because if I don’t write my life is not the same. Our stories are better when shared.



“Everything is biographical, Lucian Freud says. What we make, why it is made, how we draw a dog, who it is we are drawn to, why we cannot forget. Everything is collage, even genetics. There is the hidden presence of others in us, even those we have known briefly. We contain them for the rest of our lives, at every border we cross.” – Michael Ondaatje