Paris, Day 2: The East and a Revolution of Words
The bowl on the wood counter is overflowing with purple-black muscat grapes, spicy fleshed calville d’hiver and gold-grey-skinned Canada gris apples, and a striped Charentais melon nestles up beside.
There is peppery pork saucisson from Auvergne, a wedge of Tomme de Savoie, and a little round of natural-rind Chabichou. A demi pain traditionnel and a pain de campagne (the croissants didn’t make it back to the flat…) hang out in the drying rack — a makeshift bread basket. A variety of spreads destined for tartines — traditional tapenade, eggplant caviar, sundried tomato purée — are tucked into the tiny fridge alongside olives, caper berries, and a bottle of dry rosé from Vendômois. There are speckled brown en-plein-air eggs for making omelets, and Sunday supper chez Jodi in Paris will be a fat piece of cod pan-roasted in olive oil, flanked by brown rice and lightly dressed mauve frisée dotted with white-and-red radishes.
Words, precise names, and vivid, accurate descriptions. They’re important to me. While that’s no new or radical revelation, it’s unmistakable in the black ink soaking the pages of my journal. I flip through those pages from my perch on a bench after I finish recording my day in Eastern Paris as the golden afternoon light in Parc de Bercy starts to drop behind the wall of the Grande Terrasse.
I wanted to remember the colours, flavours, origins, and vendors of everything I bought at Marché Bastille. As a weekly market-goer at home, I took such immense pleasure in stocking my flat for breakfasts and suppers from what is Paris’s largest outdoor food market. The cascade of words that name and give shape and flavour and dimension will let me experience it — taste it — all again.
Other details from the day rise off the page in a pulsing colour palette:
How the particular hue of dusty pink in the Matsumoto asters I bought from the flower vendor for my desk at the flat remind of fall sunsets.
How moved I was by how brightly gold bronze-winged Liberty shone in the unencumbered sun atop the Colonne de Julliet, the marker of those “three glorious days” of 1830’s Revolution, which guards the entrance to the market.
How cream, the colour of so much of the architecture here, is the perfect foil for the stunning details — the ironwork, in particular — that Paris is so richly steeped in.
How the lush green of Parc de Bercy smells so distinct, it makes me want to capture it in a perfume so that I can mist myself back to this place of emerald serenity whenever I need to.
My mind has been so full of these details and the act of finding my place within this city’s heartbeat that the memory of his last message to me has been kept comfortably at bay. But as I look at my words from today, and turn over their meaning, it’s hard not to feel again how deeply his pierced.
They changed so drastically, the words he used a week ago, from the ones he had been using for the last two years. And while there’s nothing to be done about feelings that change, the words describing what came before that change don’t. He may no longer adore me or continue to find me exquisite, magnificent, and rare. But he did. And words uttered and written in a moment are meant to preserve it — as they do in the pages of my journal today, and as his did again and again and again.
A heart heals from the pain of changed affection. But I cannot forgive his attempt to diminish our history by changing the words he used to describe it.
The words I use for Paris matter. They will form the memory of this place, which called to me and welcomed me at a time I needed it most. I will use them plentifully, I will use them accurately, and may the delicious and vibrant memories they recall never fade.