Yesterday was the last day of Paris Plage and when I went for a late evening walk across Pont-Marie and Île-Saint-Louis, I watched with a distinct feeling of sadness as a worker dismantled the row of misting shower heads. I took this photograph earlier in the afternoon because of the tiny girl in the red t-shirt. She ran so fast with such joy, I could barely catch her image. In and out she dashed, her whole body quivering with a pleasure that jumped from body to body laughing and calling us all in to experience the miracle of mist.
In my very first memory I am running as fast as I can for what seemed to me to be very far. Then, as I run back towards my mother, I notice my heart is beating very loudly. When I reach her, I point to my chest and say, “Mama, listen, I’m having a heart attack.” I remember her laughing and the warmth of her reassurance, as she tells me that I am far too little to have a heart attack.
Raining today. Everything feels quite water-logged, even my head. Perhaps, I’ve caught a cold. The weather has been surprisingly fall-like all summer and I know there is a cold virus already circulating. Even so, Paris smells better in the rain.
There is a black and white photograph of me that my mother took. I remember she was doing something different, something that now I would call art. She dressed me and combed my hair very differently and asked me to look in a specific direction, with a certain expression. I don’t remember if I was getting it right, but I have the photo.
Scene witnessed earlier this summer:
A family is milling around the zero-point star at the Notre-Dame Cathedral taking photographs. The woman places the young girl on the star, steps back and takes the photograph. The little girl is somewhat expressionless and the woman exclaims, “That’s not the smile I was looking for.” The girl moved her face a bit and the woman took another photo. I turned away, not able to watch more. Later I noticed the little girl in a fit of tears.
The most challenging job on earth must be mothering. Being the child of a parent who is never satisfied is heartbreaking.