I finally read Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast this summer. Only 126 pages and one of literature’s classics; absorbing his narratives of the Paris quais and cafés, I felt an unavoidable sense of failure that it had taken me more than a quarter of a century to find the book.
At the same time, I was glad. Reading with my feet up against the window in the back of a Renault Twingo winding through the Alps towards the Italian border, I knew the summer would soon be ending where upon I would eventually return to Paris and wait for winter’s arrival.
I took a moment to look up and stare glaze-eyed at the revolving mountains which I noted were distinctly less interesting without snow. Perhaps I needed Hemingway’s candidness and infatuation with Paris now more than ever.
My first winter in Paris had passed like Spring. I’d spent it floating in and out of warm, yellow-lit cafés, falling in love and falling out of bars converted from old wine cellars.
No doorway with its peeling turquoise paint went unphotographed, no travelling flea market hawking abandoned belongings went undocumented.
But this winter would be different. I would be returning to Paris. Not to London; the city I had abandoned at the end of last summer, or rather, the city that had abandoned me.
I was coming home to a new city. One that if I was really honest about things, wasn’t yet home enough to call home. Not yet home enough to return to and play out the seasonal post-holiday blues.
And if to call a place home meant that it needed to be a city that raised you, well then Paris would never be mine.
And there it was again; that sense of inescapable failure that it had taken me so long to find something.
But then as I came to Hemingway’s final chapter “There is Never Any End to Paris”, sat on the balcony of a one-star pensione in another Mediterranean city, I understood.
Paris was never meant to be home. If I were to stay my entire life, it’s purpose would never be to serve as my home.
Here in Paris, I was to become the person, the writer, the artist, the musician, the lover and the woman I had never known I would be.
I need not fear Paris becoming or not becoming my home. For there is never any end to Paris.
And I’d like to thank this wonderful bottle of Domaine Casanova Rosé, Lana Del Rey’s song “Video Games” and a humbling little Renault Twingo that took me across countries and back to Paris for helping me complete the daunting task of my first post-holiday blog post.
(This post may or may not have been inspired by Hemingway’s often non-sensical babble).