lunes, 8 de septiembre de 2014

The Gardens of Versailles

Windy and chilly. A typical parisian winter, or at least that's how it is at the beginning.

Today, Paul has got on a train to visit one of the most spectacular places in the world: the chateau de Versailles. A beautiful palace where the King once lived and the infamous Marie Antoinette lived her life, isolated from the rest of the people.

That's how you fell, after you've seen the museum and you start wandering through courtyards and gardens: you feel alone in the world, even if there are hundreds of tourists around

What Paul didn't expect was running into an old school mate. No, they were not friends. Far from that: they despised each other. Jonah was always the athletic jock, not that beautiful to be honest but always life of the party and center of attention. Paul was just the opposite.

Jonah was buying a sandwich from a lady in al old kiosk and then he saw Paul. And Paul saw him. It was one of those moments when time freezes because you don't really know how to react. It was too late to fake not seeing the other man and too strange of a situation to say anything.

It was Paul that came closer and bought a hot beverage from the same lady. It has to be said that he had being trying to change his elusive and shy self in order to be more assertive and spontaneous. So, when he saw Jonah, what would be more spontaneous than just greeting him, as if he was better than all that had happened in school.

To be honest, only discomfort happened. There were never awful jokes or nasty discrimination: it wasn't a movie high school or an american one for that matter. They just disliked each other and that was it.

Anyway, Paul greeted Jonah and Jonah responded. They asked for their respective lives: Paul was in Paris in a holiday. He lived in Berlin, working in a restaurant as an apprentice of the main chef. He had always loved food. On the other hand, Jonah lived in London and was working in a big advertising company.

They fake smiled and had small talk, walking along the path that lead to the Grand Trianon. They ate and drank their respective foods.

 - Did you come here by yourself? - said Jonah.
 - Yeah. You?

Jonah nodded. Paul didn't know but Jonah had a nervous crisis a year earlier. He had being in a relationship with a girl from school and realized he was bored to death by her. They had come together because of their "status" in life but that faded fast when they moved to London.
The separation broke Jonah as he didn't know where he stood. With difficulty and thanks to some friends and his work, he seemed to come back to life.

But he didn't say this to Paul. Only that he always wanted to visit the palace and see its grandeur at least once. Paul agreed: it was a personal dream of his to visit Paris, a well regarded place for food, and specially to walk through places so charged with history and beauty as these gardens.

After watching the furnitures and art inside the Trianon, they walked through the village created by Marie Antoinette to recreate a fairytale town, with animals and beautiful houses and even a pond.

There, Paul told the truth: he had suffered to much when caring for people and keeping the truth hidden, about his feelings and thoughts. So about six months ago he had decided he would change that and try to be more open and bold.

Jonah was curious.

 - Like what would you say then?
 - I had a crush on you in high school. I thought you were so perfect. I knew I could never be like you. It was weird.

And the Jonah kept asking why and how and when and Paul answered every questions as they fed some bread to the ducks and walked through narrow paths.

 They walked closely but never too close. They didn't say a word for several minutes as they walked to the front gate.

 - Would you take a drink with me? - asked Jonah.

Paul was confused. He hadn't had the intention of making Jonah feel bad or obliged somehow by his story. He expressed this to him as they neared Versailles-Rive Gauche train station.

 - It's not that... I'm just here 'till January 2nd and it would be nice to see the city with someone else. Don't you think so?

He certainly had a good point.

 - Ok. You're right. I was planning on scouting the left bank neighborhoods tomorrow.
 - That's great. But first a drink.

An hour later they were drinking wine in small bar were they chatted for several hours. So many hours that the owner had to ask them to leave as he had to close the establishment.

A bit drunk and all talkative, Jonah confessed to Paul he was glad to find him in Versailles. Paul only thanked him and abruptly changed the subject, a little bit annoyed to feel good about revisiting his past.

Paul invited Jonah to his hotel were they ate bread and jam and two more bottles of wine.

It wasn't strange when, after two bottles and only a few hours until sunrise, Paul kissed Jonah and the former jock stood still. Paul was ashamed and Jonah was speechless. He decided to grab his coat and leave.

Paul barely slept, all alcoholic intoxication lifting from his body by the thought of his mistake. He had gone to far and he had to learn from it. So much for the walk around the Rive Gauche.

After lunch time, he decide that walking would be better than staying at home. As he put on his coat, the phone rang. It was the front desk lady stating someone was waiting for him downstairs.

Indeed, waiting by the travel brochures, there was Jonah.

 - We should visit Montparnasse Tower. They say the view is great.

And there they went. The day was gray and gloomy but it went perfect as they slowly became friends. No mention was made of the kiss, not once all day.

But the truth is that when they parted in the airport days later, Jonah eyes were watery and Paul had memorized Jonah's scent. They shook hands, as if they had always being great friends and then went on with their lives, each one changed a bit by a casual and random encounter in a place full of magic.

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