Midnight in Paris

Trip Start Jun 20, 2012
Trip End Aug 05, 2012

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What I did
Cleo Telford

Flag of France  , Île-de-France,
Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Friends. To have their support and their love can be such a powerful reminder that all will be okay.

I felt uplifted when I read the words Mikayla, Amanda, Scarlett, Daniel and Gemma wrote me. From the words of strength and advice to the wishes of comfort and encouragement, all showed me that I am surrounded by love; no matter how far the distance between us. My greatest friend, who gives me all the love and hope I could ever need, is always you and the excitement I felt today to Skype with you after class, was wonderful. You're wonderful. Thank you for holding my hand through life and for squeezing it tight when I stumble and squeal.

A hug from a friend can be so many things and in the lead-up to seeing Cleo, it was a thing greatly and eagerly anticipated by me. To feel loved in their embrace and to give yourself over for just a moment to the feeling of safety which their arms around you provides, is enlivening. 

I arrived at Blanche station half an hour early, so I went back to rue fromentin to stand in the old Absinthe Lounge, take the clunky and charming elevator up to our room and have a short laugh with the sleek-haired frenchman who minds the front desk. I had taken longer on the trains than I expected to so I had run out of time to check out the store we'd been hurried out of that evening,- the one near La Basilique du Sacre Coeur - before meeting Cleo outside the Moulin Rouge. The train ride had offered itself as a vantage point to see a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower against the glorious backdrop of a crisp blue sky, softened by puffy white clouds. I thought of us running up to it, hand in hand and of Claude gouging a chunk from the base to add to her collection.

We went straight to the restaurant which was where Fleur and Cleo's grandparents were meeting us later for dinner. We ordered a bottle of red and got down to some serious catching up. It was great seeing Fleur again and lovely to meet the grandparents, who regaled us with stories of the sex museum and the asylum-art museum they'd gone to that day. The latter was a museum which showcased a collection of art which had been kept from a variety of french asylum houses, created by the patients and apparently ranges from artfully altered furniture to impressive sculptures and carvings to paintings and sketches. It sounded intriguing and they said it's just at the foot of the Sacre Coeur, so I might check it out one of these days. 

After dinner we went to their hotel, where Fleur and I chatted for a while whilst Cleo wrote to her man in America. We left Fleur with her feet up on the bed and headed for the Sacre Coeur. From the foot of the cathedral Paris lay before us with the lights of the night dancing through the city. I showed Cleo the flower-ball just down the hill and I had to bully her into not opting for the chairlift choice to get to the top.

We made our way back to Boulevard de Clichy and found a bar with a heater by the window, where we ordered cocktails and a bottle of rosé and sat talking about life, love and friends. With class at 8am the next morning in mind, I saw Cleo to her hotel and started the expedition home just after 1am. About a third of the way into the journey I needed to change train and it was in trying to do this I was told by a police officer that all trains in Paris end at 1am and I shouldn't have even boarded the one which had gotten me that far. At this point I had made my way to the Arc de Triomphe and with my thoroughly worn map in tow I decided to brave the early morning streets and find my way on foot back to the apartment. I walked along the Champs Élysées, past the Place de la Concorde and the Louvre, across the Seine and down through the dark, long and deserted business district. I made it to rue de tanneries just before 3am only to find I had no way of getting in without the night code for the front gate. A few very loud taps of my umbrella on one fortunately-left-unbarred window and I had procured the digits for entry from a very confused french lady in her nightie and I was able to make my way in for a shower, before crawling into the long-awaited comfort of bed.

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withintheforest on

Your friends love you, Stephen, and it makes me so happy that they are showing you that. I feel so lucky that my lover is also my best friend, and I'll always hold onto that.
What a fun night out. I imagined you reconnecting over wine, scrambling to views of Paris at night, your long walk home. It's hard not to be nervous that you did that - walked the dark streets of Paris at 2 in the morning - but I trust you and your instincts and I admire your sense of adventure.
The images of Royal Fromentin brought tears to my eyes for the happy memories and a longing to be reunited with you.

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