LOST IN THE CITY
I and Eugène Lapierre had been working on the same project since last 2 years. We chatted almost every weekday, via text/voice/video chats, I am the lead developer of this project and he is the IT head of LPA Systèmes which is our client. It was a work relation but we were always on friendly terms. It was the critical time as the Project deployment was appearing close, and I had to leave for France. It was only 20 days earlier to my departure when I was informed that I had to be in France for approximately 6months – 2 years for pre and post deployment support. I was in a rush, buying new clothes, shoes, and a new laptop because my laptop is an oldie and I don’t trust it. I have never been away from my home except for my vacations. I love my mom, and I am so used to the cocoon of her love that in like a week away I would feel homesick. Being pessimistic, I would assume I have to stay there for 2years, and I’ve no idea if I would get an opportunity to come home for Christmas. Or I would end up celebrating it in my room alone? **sighh**
So many questions, and I don’t see anything good in going there except for my experience of clientele. As of what I could remember what Eugène once told me, he is the only American (half American) in LPA Systèmes. And others hardly speak English, probably this is the reason only Eugène converses with us. And I’ve been informed I would reach France on 23rd October, and Eugène would be on a vacation, and would come back by first week of November. **OMG! What am I gonna say to the Parisian’s?? C’est? Oui? Je m’appalle Amelie? What if I need to go to the powder-room on first day and I don’t know where it is? Should I learn some sign language?? Yikes! This is so terrible. Why wasn’t I sent to England? Or New Zealand? Come on any English speaking country? Even India would have been fine since major people there speak in English. Like Sujata came to USA from India, I would have filled her place. God! I was never good at foreign languages. Probably carrying a piece of paper with basic French words would do, but I may end up making a fool of myself by pronouncing something bad or funnily **Oh-God-Why-is-French-not-pronounced-as-it’s-written? **. What about food? I would get burgers, wouldn’t I? Burgers are all over the world I am sure. Sujata said you can find burgers in India in almost all cities. So why wouldn’t France have. I was trying my best to convince myself, I had expected my mother to be all sad and disheartened but she was on the cloud nine. She says I am lucky to go Paris, it’s a city of love and lights. And I am like “Momm.. I am nont going on a vacation!!”
My US Airways Non-stop flight was at 4.45 PM (22nd October) from Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Concourse B, it is an 8 hour journey but because of the time difference I should be in Paris by 7.00 AM. Mom, Dad and Christy came to drop me. I have stocked myself with my favorite chocolates and cookies as if they would last forever. Chris gifted me a minion collection with different expressions saying “One for every mood of yours” (Aww I loved them, she knows me so well). Mom gifted me a hand-made Photo collage book with pictures from the day I was born till date (oh I love them and I almost had tears in my eyes, she is a Do-It-Yourselfer and she did a very good job) and I embraced her tight in my arms. Dad sponsored my shopping what else do I expect? I purchased some branded outfits, bags, footwear, it has cost his pocket heavily. But I was surprised that he gifted me a “Living and Working in France” a Survival Handbook, by David Hampshire and I threw myself on him and wrapped him in a big tight hug and I was crying like a kid. ** Oh-I-so-love-my-Dad **
I get a window seat but I really am not excited. An old lady is seated beside me, and on a usual day I would have started a conversation with her but today I am controlling hard not to burst into tears because if I start I may cry forever. Somehow I manage to sleep through my journey by trying to think what all places I would visit in Paris. I reached at 6.55 AM (23rd October) on Paris Charles de Gaulle Apt on Terminal One and there is a mid-aged half bald man about 5.5″ (shorter than me) who later introduced himself as François Moreau, holding a sign bored with my name and DAMN IT! A spelling mistake in my last name? I mean really is it that difficult? It spelled “Amelie Sylvie” and it’s originally “Amelie Sylvia” and I don’t wish to change my name. *urghh*
I heave my baggages from cab to the lift (obviously Mr. Moreau didn’t bother to help). The room they provided me was on the second floor of the building named Devanley Résidence located at Les Pavillons Sous Bois (I am pretty sure if I am lost somewhere in Paris, I could never pronounce and reach back to my dorm), and by Public Transport it would take an hour for me to reach LPA Systèmes office (I so miss my old beetle). The room is small about 12×14, but pleasant and cozy with plain white walls. A queen sized bed with comfortable white bedding, small old wooden side table with a chest of drawers, a TV unit made of oak wood in the opposite wall of the bed that looks like that is some 1.5 feet tall, a wall mounted 14″ LCD with what? French channels, what would I understand? Later I would scan through and I am sure I can find few American channels. Small shower area with lavatory, it’s clean and I am relieved, because when I see dirty washrooms or lavatories, the first thing I do is throw up, and I have no intentions to spoil my first impression with this man. He greets me and speaks in broken English “Mademoiselle, youu resst n’ eet n’ sleeep, youu can eet at de restron on de ground flooor, I would peeck you tomoroo moorning at 7.00 AM, n’ I would teeke youu to de offeece, Au revoir ” (Fingers crossed. If not burgers or pizzas I at least want a pan cake).
Yeah after freshening up a bit, I was able to search few American TV channels like Fox, ABC, The CW, etc. I was hungry to the pit of my stomach and I start munching one of the chocolates I have got. I so wish I could get my Mom’s hand cooked bacon and a Chicken Caesar Salad Sandwich. But in a worst case scenario, No mom’s food for 2 long years(Oh I hate it) I wear my jeans and my favorite tee that Chris and Me had purchased when we had participated in Twins Day at our office. Chris and I had been best of friends since our high school. We were selected in the same organization “Charles Brothers and Co.” after graduating from University of North Carolina in Charlotte. And I miss her, we are totally opposite, she is blond, I am brunette, she is all long legs, curves, sultry blue eyes and right complexion and I am big green eyes, pale skin, tall but not so beautifully curved, I can never manage growing long nails. But I love her, I can share all my stupid secrets with her and I am sure she won’t judge me, she is all girly and has helped me with the shopping. I started placing all my gifts on the TV unit below the LCD and tears clouded my vision and I go flat on bed, hug my Huggy-Bear (teddy bear that Mom had gifted me 4 years back), and cry till I dehydrate myself.
Because I am a girl who needs a hand to hold on to, and I feel I am lost in a new city.
The moment of Love in Friendship
Characters: Emily Steve, Emanuel Perkins
I and Emanuel had been the best of friends since sophomore, we met in our freshman year when he shifted to Atlanta. He was this tall fair boy with auburn hair and I was brunette with braces. We had this crazy idea of watching classic movies and look for faults (generation gap) and laugh out loud. We used to have this session every week while we were in high school, but as the years passed things gradually changed. Week turned to Month, Month to a Year, but whatever we had been doing, we would take time out of our work, home, our girlfriend/ boyfriend and do watch it in 6 months or at least a year.
It was New Years’ time, and the streets were filled with snow, and the temperature dropped to -8°C. Emanuel have had rough patch lately and I too wasn’t doing any great. Emanuel’s father have had an accident and was recovering so he didn’t feel good enough to celebrate. I too had a bad month where 4 of my articles were rejected in Times Now. I own a column in Times where I usually deal with Single Girls issues with Men and Job. I was not able to concentrate and was on the verge of quitting (rather on the verge of being terminated). There was a lot of things missing in my life, job that ones enlightened me, father who is more engrossed in his own life, in lame fame of his lame books that old ladies love (I wonder why), mother whom I don’t feel comfortable enough to share my views, brother who has lately turned 16 and is fooling around in college, No love in my life, All in All I was near to a breakdown and needed a friend more than anything. Chelsea had gone to her grand mom for Christmas vacation, and I miss her soo much. So I gave Emanuel a call wondering if he could follow our ritual of watching some crap old movie by which way I can have a laugh and lighten my life.
I was inserting the DVD when someone rang the doorbell, it’s got to be Emanuel as I expect no one at the moment, and yes it’s him. We have this weird way of greeting each other, Emanuel calls me Ma Vie, since we took French as our subject, he referred me as his life and I call him Ma Femme meaning my Wife. We were all kiddish and we used to talk in French whenever possible. So he hollers Ma Vie when we hug, and I holler even louder in his ears Ma Femme, and we burst out laughing, it feels so great meeting him again after a year.
The first thing he inquires is, “What’s in the meal?” yeah the last thing I would want to do is cook on a New Year’s eve. I reply holding a hand on my tummy “I thought you have come to cook me some feast, I am starving.. Cook me a delicacy..Yummmm”. And he is all like “A girl is meant to cook, bake breads”. He knows this will instigate me to kick his arse. I rather muss his hair (he LOVES his hair) which triggers him and we are all cushion fighting around my couch, jumping, climbing, shoving our hands into each other’s stomachs and there we both lay on the couch panting.
Emanuel: “Hmphh..” pant pant ” you are getting old and cranky” pant pant pant.. “Old Lady Agnes”.
(Mrs. Agnes James was the crankiest lady we have ever seen in our neighborhood)
Me: “Hmmmphh” pant pant pant “Look who is talking, you Bruno”.
(Bruno was my old cat, he was the laziest cat and would just lay on the floor like a carpet).
And he nudges me and we both laugh louder.
We order 2 large pizzas, I order pizza Super Supreme (Beef, ham, pepperoni, Italian sausage, onion, mushroom, pineapple, capsicum, Kalamata style olives, mozzarella, tomato sauce) and he orders Hot ‘n’ Spicy Pepperoni (Pepperoni, hot jalapenos, onion, diced tomato, mozzarella, tomato sauce), and some beer. It will take approximately 30 minutes for our meal to arrive, so for the time being I’ve prepared some cheese popcorn. We play the movie “How to Marry a Millionaire” (1953) by Jean Negulesco and put on our blankie. Emanuel is a huge fan of Marilyn Monroe. As per the title Emanuel starts teasing me with the crap, that girls traps a guy for money, to raise my Adrenaline level. But I am in no mood, rather I am not even paying attention to the movie. Thankfully our pizzas arrive, and I pounce on it (not literally). We finish up our meal and talk about our job, his dad, my dad (his books, Urgh) and the movie plays in the background but we are immersed in each other. I feel like i am in high school, no job, no deadlines, and no worries. We are long done with our meals and as if he could sense my apathy, he turns off the television. We still talk while there is complete silence except of our voices. I don’t realize when we shifted and our distance is bridged, and I could inhale his smell, of body wash, pizza, his perfume (Ambre Antique by Coty), as long as I can recall, he has always smelled of L’Origan, La Rose Jacqueminot, or Ambre Antique, all by Coty). His Uncle lives in France, and always gifts him perfumes by Coty, he has some connection I guess. When I closely notice him, his hair look beautiful and his eyes are brown and big and his smile is lush. I want to tousle his hair, not because I want to tease him, but because I want to feel him. I almost feel myself pouting as if I am offering him to kiss me. I could no longer remember how to breathe, and I have been holding my breath. I don’t understand how to react to this new feeling I have for my old best friend. Never in my life have I thought of him as anything but a Buddy. I feel I would melt here in the couch, or burn to ashes by the heat I feel within. My cheeks starts flushing scarlet, and the only thing I can do to stop my haywire thoughts is go away. But where!
Hoping these feeling are transient, I rush towards kitchen saying I need to drink water. I should be given an Oscar for such a genius idea when I have a bottle of water beside the couch. Before he could say something, I scurry to the kitchen as if my tail caught fire. I feel the sudden burning sensation from throat to the pit of my stomach, and my heart is thumping loudly and I am sure he could hear it. It’s darn audible in this silence, I could feel the pounding of my heart, and in the attempt of hushing my heart I hold left side of my chest with both hands as if my heart would run away. Emanuel comes in the kitchen while I am standing there frozen, and my brain goes numb with this feeling. I don’t want to wreck our friendship for this stupid transient feeling that is probably out of emptiness in my life.
Emanuel: “Hey Ma Vie, you alright?” I can see his concern on his face.
Me: “Nothing Emanuel” ‘What!!!! Did I just called him by his first name??? I have call him by his name like after a decade, what is wrong with me’
He comes soo close to me that we are inches away. he holds my face in his palms and lifts it forcing me to look up to him. And before I could get away by saying “Nothing Me Fe…” he puts his right hand’s index finger on my lips, there by shutting me up. He takes a big sigh like after an eternity of silence, and says “Emie, do you feel something?” my heart pounds and I flush crimson but I can’t think of a single word fit for a reply to his question.
He inches closer and we are at a distance that if I pout, I could kiss his chin. I am sweating in this cold weather and feel like my body temperature is hitting 60°C. He then says “I wonder why haven’t you ever felt such, I was always craving for your attention, I always thought you were the best girl in my life, and I always meant when I said Ma Vie, because yes I always felt that you were my life. Hmpphh.. You had never considered me as anything but a friend and I respected that. But now that I could see it in your eyes, I can’t let this moment get away. I want you to know Emie that you were the first Love of my life, I have had my crushes, I have had my share of relationships, but deep down I always felt for you. I just want you to know, that if I have misinterpreted your emotions, then I am extremely sorry, because I don’t want to lose our friendship. I just want to..” and before he could express more or before he feels more sorry about what he said, I pull his finger from my lips, and the next moment my lips is on his. I could feel the warmth and softness, and I close my eyes and wrap my arms around his neck and let myself burrow myself in his arms.
After an eternity, I open my eyes and see him smiling. I feel home, relieved in his arms and I am sure he feels the same. A feeling I have never had before. I realize that all the while I had been looking around when what I needed was him. And I soo wish that he becomes my Ma Vie and I become his Ma Femme.
I found my moment of love in our friendship.