Jessica Eve Watkins
8th December, 2014 (delayed post)
Horizontal between white sheets in a dirty petticoat, it’s been a mammoth stretch of travel to get here. Hels asks me to light some incense to mask the clinging stale cigarette smoke of this hotel room, but the packet’s buried too deep in my suitcase. I don’t know how long we’ve been transient – with all the lateral time-differences things get murky. We’ve definitely evaded one night of sleep, and most of this second one, too. From JFK to Stockholm, where we sprawled our bodies flat on leather chairs, surrounded by christmas decorations and urban blonde whirlwinds, for a moment’s dream-time. Woke up, lost books, spilled water, braided scruffy hair; pooled together our last Swedish krona to pay for tea and cinnamon cake.
From Stockholm to Paris. No time is lunch-time, or breakfast-time, or bed-time, because the rules have vanished, and nowhere belongs to anybody, because we’re all just moving through the sky. No-one has the monopoly on nationality when you waltz this pace through the world. Some live in a globally transient manner every day, but too much of this is blowing my mind.
At the third airport, we get hysterical and red-eyed and catch one another staring off into space, muttering half dreams into the ether. At some point there is wine and a movie and turbulence; at another point our two heads loll drowsy under an Afghan blanket, blocking strip-lights from delirious eyes. There are tall, well heeled men with I.T. jobs, and a pop music producer asking about the instruments strapped to our backs. There is a stern woman with a braid to her thighs welcoming us into France, and then there is the familiar Metro again, across Paris after midnight. Hels asks me if I’m taking in where we are, and I realise that I’m not really at all. How strange it is to be dropped onto another continent, with a foreign dialect and no Americans to be found. I better open my eyes.
We drag ourselves to this sweet little hotel room on the forth floor of a Christmas-lit street in Northern Paris, spending near the last of our money in a hasty Kerouac fashion. It’s late. This starry ancient city still wins a large part of my heart. Over the last few years it has housed me for so many travels, jobs, dances, and fake fur nights drinking pernod next to chess-musing gentlemen. Everything is decadent and older and belonging to Anais and Henry. Patti’s Smith’s backpack arrival into 1970’s Montmartre is with me, too. The cigarette smoke romance and the icy cold winter here, excluded by softest scarves and afternoon red wine. It’s the bohemian city where being flat broke feels romantic. We haven’t forgotten how blessed we are too, just to have a bed for the night.