And then that summer, the season that he spent almost everyday with me, BD and I rented the Vélib bicycles from the stands round the corner from WH Smith, and we wheeled around the emptied out city. We cycled along the Left Bank, to the Jardin du Luxembourg, winding back to the Île Saint-Louis. We stopped to eat the ices at Maison Berthillon, pear ice cream, chestnut ice cream, cassis sorbet, and BD leaned into the Seine and smoked and smiled, the sunlight outlining him in gold. He almost looked the boy I went to Bagan with all those years ago, that summer that I bought the sturdy velvet slippers I still wear today. The city of Paris, in late summer is like another city altogether. There are slow Sundays when it almost feels like it’s by the sea, and you can eat a bag of fat cherries, and enjoy the salty breeze flying off the river, and watch the Parisians visibly relaxing. I even talked BD into taking me onto the Bateaux Mouches at the Pont Neuf; I’d never been on one of these before, but in the happy mood, it made perfect sense, and though BD looked embarrassed, seemed just as astonished as me at the treasures of Paris scrolling by on the banks.
That was the summer that I took my first bus in Paris. M Leroux, who mans the door of the hotel, and who seems to be watching out for me especially, when told I wasn’t wanting a taxi today because I was taking a bus to meet BD, looked pleased as a parent. “You’ve become a Parisian at last!” he sighed.
And then that night it rained.
The water came misting down in fogs and flusters, and then it poured, and we got wet through, while waiting for the Eiffel Tour to light up, and it didn’t and BD said it wasn’t a big deal anyway, and laughed at my dismay that my slippers were ruined, the dye bleeding into the pavement.
And then the summer turned cold, inexorably.