You order Perrier in Paris because you can. Because everything else is wrong, but you can manage that one thing. An impossibly old man grips your wrist like he’s drowning. He tells you he once had an American lover. The day takes on carnival proportions.
You went to Paris to drink Sancerre (even though the French are bored with wine) while sitting in a wicker café chair on the sidewalk. You went to Paris to fall in love, to be seen in that particular light. What was supposed to be a moment suspended, a Mendelssohn overture, is instead an impossibly old man clawing at your arm and leaving marks.
When the rain breaks for five seconds you make a run for it. Coward. Paris is laughing at you. You can’t get close to the Eiffel Tower for the slow snake of tourists. You walk for miles to the Picasso museum only to learn that it’s closed for the next five years. You order a carafe of Sancerre but all the wicker chairs are taken.
You sleep in the fourteenth arrondissement, which sounds romantic, but you dream of work and bills and the singular anxiety of lost luggage. You’re tired in Père Lachaise Cemetery and think of laying down on the polished marble of Edith Piaf’s grave, curling against the crucified Christ.
You order food that comes wrapped in paper so you can eat while walking rather than dine alone.
The locks on the bridge over the Seine — so many that it’s someone’s job to periodically cut them off — are an unsolvable riddle. How is a padlock a romantic gesture and not a scare tactic?
But you are no one’s key, no one’s promise, no one’s lost love.