“On the meridian of time there is no justice, only the poetry of motion creating the illusion of truth and justice”H. Miller Outside it’s raining. Beads of water form on the window in front of me. The glow of the unseen sun is fading behind midnight blue clouds and darkening sky. An old man in a butcher apron selling oysters under an awning smokes a cigarette and watches the mothers and children walking home with bags of groceries, the young man with the blue umbrella crosses the street with his head down. The hiss of tires on the pavement comes softly between Satie’s piano notes; the wet greens leaves flap against the dark bark of maples trees; the headlights reflect in red and white streaks in the puddles. The digital sign across the street prints out events in red dot matrix letters, concerts, plays, museum openings, things happen in the Marais. Things happen most everywhere. For me this thing began happening when I left Paris. And now. Now I can see my reflection slighted in the window. I am haggard, tired, my cheeks slightly sunken. My pen is dry, my notebook full, my laptop out of juice and my iPod drained. I have no money, nowhere to stay. My girlfriend tells me she’s in love with the Italian deli boy (natch) and the soles of my shoes are worn through so I can feel the cold of the cobblestones when I walk. To be honest this isn’t how I wanted to return to Paris. And yet. And yet. I haven’t been this happy in years. When I left it was autumn, the leaves were falling. We all wondered aloud if the trees would ever fall from the leaves but knew better and so did not answer. Instead we walked. When the trees fall they take the whole game with them. Paris in spring stifles. The leaves uniform monochrome. Except for the Japanese maples which make me hungry for something I’ve never tasted with their burgundy leaves hinting at autumn before it has come. Another summer to sweat through. Or maybe they are a reminder of an autumn past, some constant by which to trace our elliptical paths through these winding cobblestone alleys. Paris is much like New York in that both were designed with autumn in mind. Though New York is a bit short on cobblestones. Last night, having nothing to do after I parted ways with someone I met on the train from Vienna, I wandered down to the Latin Quarter, an arrondissement I never really spent much time in. I bought a copy of Lydia Davis’ translation of The Way by Swann’s and then strolled up away from the Seine. It began to drizzle lightly, just enough to mottle the lens of my eyeglasses which made the lights in store windows glitter and blur as I walked past. At some point I found myself under a small awning and I paused to wipe my glasses on my shirt. When I put them back on I noticed that the darkened and grated shop window next to me was full of old cameras — 1960’s Pentax and Contax, Kodak Brownings, Leica bodies, rows of Carl Zeiss lens and even a few small collapsible bellows cameras. I thought about an article I had read several days before which covered the recent announcements from both Canon and Nikon that they will cease still film camera production this year. Film is already a curiosity. Even small children in out-of-the-way countries expect to see instant results in a small digital screen and are visibly disappointed when they cannot. Silver haloid preserved the twentieth century but now its service is ended. Just across the street was well-lit display of digital camera’s, cd and mp3 players, plasma televisions. For a long time Kodak used the slogan “preserving your memories.” I have a lot of pictures. Over 2000 as a matter of fact. Only about twenty are any good, which is roughly the ratio of good to bad that convinced me to give up on being a professional photographer back in college, but strangely it’s the really bad ones that are the most compelling to me. Compelling because they look nothing like what I remember and thus do not interfere with the memories. I am sitting at the same cafe sipping, but not really enjoying all that much, a chocolate chaud much like the ones I wrote about eight months ago. It isn’t as good, there is something missing. Okay let’s be honest, someone, but you’ll have to do better than that to earn your junior detective badge. You know what you learn traveling? After all this time what do I understand now that I did not then? What makes this chocolate chaud less fulfilling than that last? Simple. You cannot go backwards. You will want to go backwards. You will want to hang on to things when they are perfect. You will want to stay in Vang Veing, a floating village, on an island lost at sea. You will want to return even after you have left. You will want things to be the same when you return. But they will not be the same. The people will be gone. And the people were the only reason you stayed. You will want to go backwards. You cannot go backwards. And now I am home. for Lilli. Because. Someday you will be the only one left.


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