The last time I visited Paris was in 2009 after a six-week stint in Cork, Ireland, for the video game company I was working for in Seattle. There, I came across a young Polish man who was studying at the university and we had a brief love affair in which I was torn between adventure and the guy I had been seeing for several months already in Seattle, Charlie, whom I would date, and love, for the next two years. Charlie and I had an explosive relationship – in that it happened much like a fireworks display, all sound and fury and bursts of colors that sizzled and sparkled to start but then fizzled and faded and eventually drifted away in clouds of smoke, or, more accurately, when I left him for Provincetown. But that’s another story. I was in Paris.
I had flown first to Milan to meet Marco whom I had known in Caen in 2006 while I was studying abroad junior year of college. We drove together from Milan to Marseille and explored the city together before parting ways in Avignon. I took a late train to Paris and met my Brazilian friends who had also studied with me in the small capital of Normandy. My third night there in the city of lights, myself and some other friends from my studies abroad were having dinner on the terrace of a sushi restaurant. On the other side of the entrance, alone at a small table, was a young American, failing adorably to order a glass of white wine in French from the Japanese waiter. I leaned over and ordered for him, striking up a conversation. He turned out to be a doctor from California, returning from medical service in the war in Iraq. I recall my friends raising their eyebrows at the interaction. In Caen, I was notoriously friendly, especially with the other gay students. It’s where I realized my penchant for American guys. And where I learned the power of flirtation.
To make a long story short, I spent the next three nights with the young American doctor in his hotel room in the Marais and he joined me as I explored Paris with my friends. Meanwhile, some several thousand miles away, poor Charlie was pining. He would say some time later that he had a feeling I was exploring romantically during my travels. He was right and, despite my guilt, I’m afraid it can’t be helped. My adventures have always been as much concerned with the heart and the libido as they have with culture and cuisine. I’ve always possessed a great thirst for life. A thirst I’ve quenched many times at many fountains and yet the fires of desire burn eternal.