Thursday, October 13, 2005

An Evening in Paris

So we're long back from Paris, which was wonderful and stressful and expensive and stimulating--and I very much got out of the habit of writing, once home. I wrote a little bit while we were there, and this is one of those jotted-down entries in my much-loved Moleskine notebook:

Sept. 19, 2005
In a Chinese cafe tonight, a man sat alone, reading the paper and eating his dinner. He was seated a few tables away from us in the almost empty restaurant. He was perhaps 40, with thinning brown hair and a hunched kind of attitude, deeply absorbed in his article.

Having just passed so many merry parties gathered around sidewalk tables, or laughing over glasses of wine in restaurants, the solitude of this man caught my attention. I watched him for a few moments while Blain had a French conversation with the proprietor. In his quietness, I saw him as an outsider and I felt a kinship with him. And as I looked out the windows at the fascinating river of people walking past, I wondered: who are these people having their social, beautiful, enviable time? Are they typical Parisians? Are they tourists or visitors? Who was this lone man? Is Paris the same Paris if you don't have anyone to eat dinner with?

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