by Kristin Barnett & Pete Koufos
You hold my hand tightly and wait for the taxi to pass before leading me across the street into the door of our apartment building. We get inside and can’t wait to take advantage of the dark space under the stairs next to the mailboxes. We try not to make too much noise.
We go back upstairs, and you pour us glasses of wine and open a new pack of your favorite French cigarettes. We watch the rain from the window that opens onto a small balcony and remember dreaming of these moments―of this time in our lives when we would finally get to be us. Just be.
We fall asleep listening to the rain and the television. It’s always on, and it always reminds us of each other. So many things do that. We couldn’t be more blessed, more fortunate, more spirited. Our lives have meaning and every moment is filled with joy. We’re finally together. Finally able to just be. -KB
I’m a little, well maybe not selfish exactly, but I don’t really encourage you to learn French. Marcel at the Brasserie speaks English, and our neighbor Madame Fortier’s son, Jean-Luc has a crush on you and wouldn’t be able to talk to you if his life depended on it. I like that you need me in this little way, and my French is getting better.
We lie in bed, the window is open, and the late March rain is coming down gently. It’s so soothing. We make love all the time. All over the apartment. We were apart for so long and we made it.
We’re in Paris now, finally, and I’m working, usually in the mornings while you sleep. Our afternoons belong to each other. Sometimes I work at night because I can’t sleep and I don’t want to smother you. Some habits die hard, but I seem to stare at your beautiful face all the time.
Even in Paris, I’m still hyper-sensitive about everything you’ve been through back in the States, how demanding your family was, and I don’t want to be a burden. So instead, I opt to get flooded.
I want to protect you. You’re precious to me. Je trouvé une perle de grande valeur. Everything that has a front has a back. The back of sparing you sometimes means I get flooded. You just patiently wait for me to sleep it off and I always do. And we make love again. And again.
But in Paris, our dynamic is always changing. We get to experience something new and still have each other.
We love the rain. I get up from the bed and put on jeans and a t-shirt and tip-toe to the small kitchen table. I pour myself a glass of wine and sit down to write for a while in the dim light. You’re asleep but you’re a little hyper-aware yourself―my absence wakes you.
You come in the kitchen, wearing that dress, barefoot. I look up and smile. The light from the main room behind you makes the dress look sheer and I see the outline of your body in silhouette.
“Come on, dolly.”
I follow you out of the apartment and down the stairs. It’s so quiet with our bare feet barely pattering on the tiled stairs.
You take me to the little bocce park across the street. It’s raining harder than I thought. You don’t have to say a word. I know.
You remember something I told you a long time ago and pull me to you. Your dress is wet and clinging to you and you kiss me deeply, and for a long time, until you start to shiver and I take you back inside.
Our lives have meaning and every moment is filled with joy. We’re finally together. Finally able to just be. Not the least implication, the smallest yet most significant movement of our bodies, our gestures, eyes meeting across a table at a cafe in Boulevard Saint Michel―nothing is lost.
Every meditation, when we breathe in each other’s exhaled breath, has significance and connection. Everything does, and it’s as we want it to be and we’re so happy. -KB
Our little apartment on Rue Jules Guesde, in the Paris banlieue of Malakoff is small and bright and perfect for us. We had planned on going to Les Halles today, but we ended up on rue de Rivoli and spent most of the day whispering and showing each other books at WH Smith’s. You let me read you a poem and a sonnet and you rewarded me with your eyes; those vivacious, expressive eyes.
We had planned to take our Vespa to Le Centre Pompidou, but we walked to the Metro and took it into the Concorde metro station instead. It’s a nice day and you wanted to walk. We don’t make it to Pompidou. Not today and we don’t care. We found Angelina and were in the mood for coffee in the afternoon, cigarettes and tarte de citron and tarte praline chocolate.
We walk through the Tuileries and end up exploring the jardin for the rest of the day. I think I’m slick. We take the passerelle and walk to Saint-Germain-des-Pres and find a little bistro to have dinner. You pretend you didn’t see that coming.
It got just a little late and we’ve been drinking and smoking a little hash, so I get us a cab and you fall asleep on the ride home, head on my shoulder, my heart in your hands. -PK