Saturday, August 23, 2008

Learning

What can I tell you about the last couple of days?

On Thursday, I met up with American friend, Peter, to do something typically touristy.

First, though, I went up to Montmartre to buy some yarn. Some people go there to see Sacre Coeur or to sightsee. Not me. I go there for the yarn. (As you may recall, I bought some yarn to finish my little sweater/shrug pattern last week. I started a new project with the remnants of that yarn and I was running out so I decided to get another skein to finish the new project.)

I have to say, I love this little area at the foot of Sacre Coeur--it's full of shops selling fabric by the meter, showing their wares on the sidewalk--big bolts of every kind of fabric imaginable. Sample dresses in windows. And buttons! I saw at least one shop where they only sold buttons. In case I need some, now I know where to go. Yarn is just an aside in a couple of the fabric shops--but it's not too expensive and it's better than nothing.

I'd gotten a late start and I missed the lunch hour. After getting my yarn, I sat in a café and drank an over-priced Perrier and tried to write a little. I succeed in writing a little.

Soon after that, I called Peter and we made plans to take a boat ride on the Seine--a super touristy thing that neither of us have done before. I walked down to the river from where I was. I was hungry but I made do with a sandwich along the way.

Peter was a little late but that gave me a chance to observe the small hoard of tourist waiting to board the boat. It was mostly families with children and a few couples. A lot of Italians and Spaniards, but a few Germans and Japanese tourists were in the mix.

After Peter arrived, we waited another 15 minutes for the next boat. It was just a boat ride, no commentary, so we chatted and tried to appreciate the scenery. We were under a Plexiglas canopy, though, so the view was slightly distorted. Before the end of the trip, we went to stand in the bow, which was uncovered and that was much better. I think I would have preferred a full tour, with narration, but this was ok. The best part was going under the bridges. One of them had a huge statue of a man on one of the supporting columns. We had no idea who it was! Another had a lot of those funny faces on the curve of the arch underneath roadway. This is stuff you cannot see from street level.

After we did the full boat-ride circuit, we found a bar and had a glass of wine. Peter called Dara and she invited us to her house for dinner (leftovers--but still!). We walked over to Dara's and she fed us. It is great to have a friend who cooks! I have cooked a little since I've been here--but my kitchen is tiny (two burners and no oven) and cooking is not my passion. I do appreciate it when others make the effort.

After dinner, we went to a nearby Brazilian bar for a drink. The bartender flirted with Peter (who isn't gay), and I told stories about my so-called love life. Dara and Peter teased me, and, in fact goaded me into sending a text to A. While I admit that they didn't force me, I wouldn't have done it except for their influence. Amusingly, A. did not receive the text until the NEXT night, at which time he responded promptly and told me there had been something wrong with his phone.

A little before 1:00am I got a little antsy and left to try and catch the metro. I just missed the last train--it was pulling out of the station as I got through the turnstiles. So irritating! I burned a ticket for nothing and the metro workers just shrugged their shoulders at me. Nice.

Back on the street, I wasn't sure what to do. I didn't want to take a cab and it would have been over an hour to walk. I decided to take the Velib, which was right there. I also texted Peter and Dara to let them know my predicament. I checked out a bike and headed home--in fact, I was able to navigate the route without consulting my map once. About twenty minutes into my ride (which lasted about half and hour), Peter called. He'd just gotten my message. We all chatted as I pedaled the rest of the way home--he passed the phone to Dara a few times. When I was back home, we said goodnight.

It took me a while to fall asleep, since I was more energized than tired out from the ride, but I did sleep well.

On Friday, I met Peter again to watch some Olympics in an ex-pat bar. We met a traveling American from Seattle and talked his ear off. I didn't drink much (one half pint--enough is enough!) but it was a miserable, rainy day and spending it inside, watching sports, was appropriate.

Unexpectedly, I spent the whole day with Peter. He's good fun to hang out with, but amount of alcohol he put away was truly astonishing. By 8pm, I was ready to call it a day. I was still tired from my late night on Thursday, so I grabbed a bus home and made an early-ish night of it.

At home, I heated up some leftovers for dinner. At 10:30pm, I received a text from A. when he finally received my text from the previous night. He saw that I was online, which led to a brief IM chat. Believe it or not, he was still at work. He claims it's not always like this--for his sake, I hope that's true. We didn't make plans, though we did chat a little about the "state of things." It was ok. I'm feeling fine about it and not an emotional basket case. It seems that the moment of clarity I had the other night is still serving me well. Interestingly, A. has some of the same concerns that I do, which is reassuring. In fact, while I'd like him to be all secretly in love with me (silly me!), he actually has about the same level of regard for me as I do for him. That is, we like each other, but neither of us sees a long-term future. But how could we? I'm leaving in mere months.

I'll admit that I could have lived without having this spelled out for me. In fact, I think I've known how he felt all along. And, luckily, I already figured out that I felt the same way, otherwise I'm afraid I might have been hurt. The open question is, do I want to continue to see him under these circumstances? My answer is a tentative yes. The test will be the next time we get together--will I be comfortable? Or will I be thinking about how he doesn't like me "enough"? I'll try and pay close attention to my gut and see if spending time with him actually makes me happy or if I'm just doing it because it seems like the thing to do. I hope it's clear that I don't think he's done anything wrong. He's been frank with me, in response to a conversation that I initiated (no matter how inadvertently). I just have to decide if I can take so much truth! You know how I like to operate in the world of illusion.

I wrote a long, rambling email to Pele about this and my conclusion was that my time in Paris is becoming the longest most expensive therapy session ever. It wasn't what I thought would happen but I think it's good. I'm confronting things that I don't think I've had the courage to face before--and that I've managed to avoid thinking about for years and years (despite some ongoing actual professional therapy!). It's hard but good and I'm going to try and glean the maximum educational benefit from my experiences. It's been years since I've felt like I learned anything in a relationship (other than that it was a mistake), so it's refreshing that I have become a student again in my life. It's about time.

Grateful for: some life lessons.

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