I miss my time in Paris.
I was there just over six months.
It was where I started writing poetry.
I got a wonderful, but small apartment, with a balcony, in Rue de Bellevue, in Boulogne-billancourt, a nice area near the river.
I remember the first night I spent in that apartment alone, I was so excited to be in Paris. I had fast wifi, hit the booze and watched the Robert Mitchum movie, Farewell My Lovely, which somehow seemed perfect for the occasion.
I got a great teaching job there, within two weeks of arriving, teaching conversational English, mainly to people connected to the acting profession: artists, musicians, actors, directors, producers, technicians, computer people.
After the Bataclan attacks, I decided to quit my job and just write for the remaining months of my lease. The morning before the attacks, I was wandering around the Republique area, very early, before a class, looking for a Chinese huo guo restaurant. I recall thinking how many homeless people there were sleeping on the benches, and around the monument. Of course, next evening they would have to move on, after the shootings.
I got to the stage that I was drinking a bottle of Label 5 there nearly every night, yet in all my time there, I never found any trouble, no fights, no arguments with the locals or the neighbours, everything was nice and easy.
In Paris, I always felt free and easy, and also anonymous. In London, you can feel anonymous, but the city and weather is too heavy on ones shoulders. In Munich, I always feel slightly oppressed, and watched. In Paris, for example I always used the balcony, but in Munich I never feel comfortable using it.
I have to believe there is a calming energy for me there, in Paris. And perhaps most others who live there.
Waking up in Paris carries that feeling of contentment and happiness and excitement too. I felt it the first morning and it never left me, the whole six months.
Yes, it is always a nice place to wake up in.
I wrote this poem just before I left, for New Zealand:
The Celtic jewel
A nice snapshot in history
Almost earned her respect
And I used to think
All Parisian girls
Would be like Betty Blue
The Arc de Triomphe
And the Eiffel Tower
Just as sure
Hitler rolled in
The cup of political correctness
Hath runneth over
All over the map of Europe
And cities such as Paris
Have suffered the affliction of dilution
Slowly being milked of their humanity
The enemy is not from within
Paris is one of those places
The energy is good
The air is smooth
And the place itself
Is at peace
I finally found a good Beaujolais
It’s a 2014 Brouilly
I owe Paris this poem
She has been good to me
Kept me safe
During dangerous times of occupation
It’s a nice place to wake up in
And always will be
Eventually the French resistance
Will rise up
Just as before
It took time
It always takes time
You got under my skin
Six months in Paris
Will draw a tear in my eyes
When I leave
It already has