Be specific. Casting your cares to the winds which carry sails of aimless adventures, can often be a default for simply not knowing what you want, or how to do it. Aimlessness is much more organic than a choice. It's positioning, and a timing that we're hardly aware of until it happens. When it does, we know we never need to plan too much, because if we do we take up all of that space meant for those spectacular events.
Whenever I go into a city like Paris, even if I've been there before, I have a small collection of objectives. I must take a photo in front of the Eiffel Tower. I must eat a salade chevre at my favorite restaurant in my favorite quarter, Chez ma Cousine in Montmartre. As long I accomplish these, everything else is a matter of aimlessness which I allow to show me what it has in store. I never experience a city the same way twice.
It is as if Paris knew I had a photo to take, because the weather is impeccable. The view ain't so bad either. The photo is nice and all, but I’m more excited by the the salad. I have too many photos in front of the Eiffel Tower, but it’s been almost a year since I’ve eaten. I head north to Montmartre. The beautiful monster that is Paris can be intimidating, and I remember when it once was. A man enters the metro with about 25 kids and other chaperons. The metro takes off, and he falls to the floor. He laughs it off while getting up, and a young man helps him out. The man bends over struggling to his feet with his rear in the face of the good Samaritan who laughs the entire situation off.
I remember when the subway’s jolt used to shock me. Even though I’ve never lived here I’ve come enough times to find a place that is my own, and in this way I always feel at ease. Montmartre is my home. It immediately evokes a sense of existential nostalgia like few other places I know. I sit on the terrace of Chez ma Cousine and I order a drink. I insist that my salad have no tomatoes, and give the waitress a speech about how I hate them. She laughs and promises that they wont find there way into my precious dinner.
The breeze. Cool. The Sun. Calm. A sip of my pint. Refreshing bubbles fizzle as I swallow. I think I hear my name, but it's not possible. No one knows me here. I look anyway and see Parker and his wife.
“I thought that was you!” he says as they come over to the table. The last time we saw each other was at our high school graduation in 2005. Now, as I am in the process of completing my objective, we're reunited.
“I saw this morning that you were coming to Paris, but had no idea where. I told her 'Wouldn't it be funny if we saw him here?'”
“Well you found me...Are you even staying in Montmartre?”
“No, we're just walking around enjoying the weather really. We arrived this morning and leave tomorrow so we're just enjoying the day. What are you doing here?”
“I have come to Paris to eat a salad.”
“Haha!” they laugh.
“Seriously. I have no other plans. This is my favorite resto in my favorite part of the city, and you, by shear matter of proximity, have just been invited to join me.You know can't leave right? You're going to watch me eat. Please, sit.”
We catch up like only old high school buddies can do. Sharing laughs of oldest memories, and swapping compliments of promising futures.They order a drink. It's too perfect. The waitress brings my salad, and as soon as they see it the understand why I love it so much.