If you did not love the French before, or at least their perfect, economical language, regarde: perdu does not mean lost, as one usually thinks, it means “to remain out of sight.”
I am writing these words from a hotel on the rive gauche in Paris. I arrived a few days ago, intending to rest, to practice, to meet some fellow Ashtangis, to spend some much needed time reading Auden by the sea. And James Merrill. He is an old friend I’ve not called upon in awhile.
On the Metro, just before stopping at station Richard Lenoir in the 11th, a hustling group of African boys got on the train. I remember their faces, one in particular because he was gorgeous and looked like a dark cat and he kept touching my hand. I felt their bodies come closer and closer to mine, as if the Metro was simply too crowded to not touch. I will never forget that combination of booze, blunts, and old sweat. A not unpleasant combination, actually. I do remember feeling uncomfortable, and yet… my instincts were buried by jet lag, by the chattiness of the boys, by their smell and their liveliness… Buried they were indeed, as I discovered soon after, when I went to open my wallet at one of the most expensive chocolate purveyors on the Isle de la Cite. Nothing. Gone.
Passport. Gone. Plane ticket. Gone. Driver’s license. Gone. Cash, credit cards, my name, my dollared worth, my identity in the world. Gone. I was hungry and cold, and I am sick with a thyroid disorder that makes the cold almost unbearable; I might have cancer, I don’t know, I certainly didn’t care at that moment. I was just stunned into the moment. Gone. Everything.
How strange, to know a sick sort of joy from losing everything. I could care less about my name (except.. “Mama.” The tethering “Mama”). I have never even thought about money, which is bringing my husband, my sweet husband and me to the brink of divorce. Because I do care about beauty and simplicity and quiet and a spare, regal sort of existence, and he informs me constantly that this requires money.
So now I am perdue. Out of sight, except to the police I must continually speak with in their revolting camouflage and machine guns; out of sight to merchants, to lovers on the street, to the booksellers I love and cannot approach, to even the yoga shalas. Oh. Yoga. It costs money. The sangha costs money.
If I had a bit of money and no children I think I would stay gone. I am constantly walking the freezing rain drenched streets, looking and looking and looking, occasionally seeing. Tonight I was terribly lonely, watching the warm lights in the impossibly romantic tiny bistros off Blvd. St. Germain. I saw a beautiful dark haired woman – her hair, it was glossed like a thoroughbred – I saw her toss her chin back as she drank a rich wine from a heavy glass. Her lover, I thought – he saw that too. And later he might hold that glossed mane… and I was jealous.
Gone, the passport, gone the sangha, gone the cash, gone very much food. I am skinny as a wraith and I feel like one too. It is a good time to give in to the lost-ness. And just watch.
It is 2AM. I think I’d like to write more, but perhaps tomorrow. Or perhaps I will just be… gone.