My connection to France has always come from a culinary angle. I was never a student of history, art, design, perfume or fashion. I was an awkward chunk that would sooner wear a tie and men’s cologne than a dress and high heels, still am in fact. No, my entry into the wonders and secrets of France have always come at the end of a fork, spoon, glass or through a swollen smear of gooey cheese, sticky and oily, deposited between my lips by one of the pudgy digits that, luckily for me, would be in need of a good licking. Every part of this country has been about ingesting for me, in the conventional sense, from the very beginning of my lust affair with it. The more I visit the more I devour.
Saturday night as I was driving home from my last official work day before vacation, after my obligatory and self-inflicted two months of broken leg off time, I heard a rumbling voice, one I’d heard, known, owned in the past but was like a lover from long ago…you can see their hands and feel the plump pull of their bottom lip in your mouth but the actual face, picture and story of your unique meeting so far packed beneath your daily and most recent dealings that you can hardly remember their particular flavor. A feeling more than a person or sound. It was Ben Harper’s voice filling the cavern of my Camry, his soulful and longing voice spilling through the cabin and over me like a baptismal cleansing. Me on the eve of leaving for my next trip to France with that voice of long ago feeling like fingers unlacing me.
Thirteen years ago I stood, a new woman full of a world that spilt her wide open with its bare hands and stuffed her with fragrances, flavors, want and an appetite for things before unimagined. My fingers more confidently flipping through the security encased squares of CD’s at some bullshit stand at Charles De Gaulle airport, my breath still hot from 25 days of complete French saturation, alone for the first time in those many days, both loving the new her and being terrified by her. “Bonjour” slipping from my freshly emerged lips just as easily as “step the fuck off” did before. The cream, dark gray colored buildings and streets packed with spastic tiny cars, grinding scooters, growling pedestrians that were just as easy with the curse words as they were to pull those lips into a sweet pucker that would then so generously fall upon my unsuspecting cheeks. I tossed the Ben Harper CD into my bag along with some Will Smith and Joni Mitchell, the soundtrack as I decompressed and ingested my first trip to France through a cheap pair of headphones cranking out airport purchased compact discs, laughter of my travel buddies and the indelible stain of the wines, vines, people, succulent slabs of honesty and the unforgettable thump of my own heart and desire as it woke with each sunrise, crumbled dead soaked and dreamy each night. A world now split apart for me like a tender coconut just waiting for me to lap it up in deep tongue marinating scoops.
Here I am again
Back in Paris
Back in France and about to pull the zipper down slow and deliberate. Step out from behind all the good-ish behavior and step naked once again into this country and knows just the right way to fill me.
Stain and bleach me
Leave the kind of scars that make people ask me questions…
“How did you get that?”
“Why do you know that?”
“Can you give me that?”
Leave with that scrape of teeth along my spine that make me.
I’m here again
Less scared but just as open
Talk to me