petite anglaise

April 9, 2006


Filed under: good time girl, Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 9:08 pm

The teeth-grittingly cheerful chime of my mobile phone (Mr Frog laid claim to the alarm clock, and the coffee machine, and I haven’t got around to replacing either) awakes me from a deep, dreamless slumber and I groan theatrically, playing to an invisible audience.

Thankfully I didn’t overdo it the night before, limiting myself to a couple of sedately sipped cocktails with a new friend; heading home soon after the clock struck midnight. This morning sees the return of the Tadpole, after a week long holiday spent with her grandparents in Besançon. Moderation was a necessity: I will need my wits about me today.

A family of moths seems to have taken up residence in my stomach, and I realise to my own amazement that I am nervous about being reunited with my own daughter. Not only are my nerves jangling, but I am also aware of a unpleasant, needling sensation of guilt. The fact is, I pretty much forgot Tadpole’s very existence this past week, slipping effortlessly back into the skin of the girl I used to be, long before she came along. I became re-acquainted with this long lost me, a girl who followed her every selfish whim, who threw on her party clothes and headed out on the town with no fear of having to deal with both a toddler and a hangover the morning after.

How I cherished every second of my temporary freedom. First, there was Nice. Leisurely meals and long drawn out evening drinks, all the while shooting the breeze with my traveling companion, who I now consider a firm friend. Hours spent hypnotised by the gentle tapping sound of waves against the pebbly shore, the sun teasing my cheeks, as I searched patiently for the smoothest, most perfect pebble to take home in my pocket. Not glancing at my watch, living to no-one else’s agenda. Upon my return to Paris, outings to bars with friends, to the cinema, an evening at home with boy plus take-away sashimi, and all that it entailed.

I hadn’t telephoned Tadpole during all this time. Not once.

I justified this neglect to myself by saying that as she doesn’t really show much interest in phone conversations, it can be a somewhat frustrating, pointless exercise. Took shelter behind the excuse that it still feels rather awkward speaking to the ex-in-laws. But the truth of the matter was that I simply wasn’t missing my daughter, and feared that if I did call, that might change. Dared not risk tainting my enjoyment of the here and now.

So here I am, catapulted back from a carefree parallel universe into a weekend of full-time motherhood. On the menu: an Easter egg hunt in the gardens of the Musée Rodin, a baby swimmers session, lunch in a Chinese restaurant in Belleville en tête à tête (our new Sunday ritual, involving much hilarity with chopsticks). Possibly some finger painting, if the weather is inhospitable. Pleasures of a radically different kind.

It’s not that I prefer one state to the other. Simply that being petite the single girl one moment, then petite the mother the next takes some adjusting to. I now live two parallel lives, which rarely overlap.

The appointed hour is close, so hastily I wash the scent of bar smoke from my hair, remove the traces of last night’s makeup from around my eyes, take a deep breath and head out into the street.

As I thrust my keys into the pocket of my jeans, my fingers close around a smooth pebble.

April 6, 2006


Filed under: single life — petiteanglaiseparis @ 1:29 pm

Can you simply make a decision that you won’t form a deeper attachment to someone? To say that you want nothing more than witty conversation and lighthearted physical proximity? A fling. Uncomplicated fun.

Because I haven’t had chance to get used to this vibrant single life of mine and all the new friendships and opportunities it has to offer. Because I’m finding I take a selfish pleasure in living only for Tadpole and myself, taking no one else into account day to day.

Because it’s much too soon to allow anyone to slip inside the invisible circle I have drawn around myself. Too soon to let the firm ground beneath my feet shake and tilt. Because even though, on the surface, I feel lighter, stronger, more whole than I have in a long time, I am still conscious of a soft, vulnerable centre. Unwilling to test the limits of my new found strength.

Because I’m convinced that, flitting from city to city, this elusive boy seeks no ties.

Wandering around Nice, taking in the opulence of the hilltop villas from the vantage point of an open topped bus, hair buffeted by the wind, cheeks warmed by the hazy sun, tiny details kept insinuating their way into my head. The way his voice changes when he smokes a cigarette. Dark chocolate eyes. The bar where we drank jus de gingembre until the owner chivvied us out of the door, when suddenly we realised chairs were stacked on tables around us and not a soul remained.

And so I shook my head vigorously to clear it, banish those unbidden thoughts, and turned to face my travelling companion.

April 3, 2006


Filed under: misc — petiteanglaiseparis @ 11:07 am

Just in case you are wondering, or cursing my bone idleness, or poised to demand a full refund for your kind paypal donation, I feel it is only fair to warn you that petite anglaise is officially de-camping to Nice until further notice (well, until Wednesday evening) and will be computerless – unless the lady with the famous chin can let me use her laptop for a few seconds – and therefore not be able to write much/at all.

In a nutshell – the blog meet up thing was very lovely, as usual, and I managed not to fall off my chair/stool, to find a suitable candidate for the position of gay best friend (a must have for any single girl, oh so very Sex and the City) and to top off all those lovely cocktails with a damn fine falafel in the rue des Rosiers. A perfect evening, in short. Thank you to the twenty or so of you who came. We will do it again soon. Most definitely.

April 1, 2006


Filed under: city of light — petiteanglaiseparis @ 4:46 pm

With an hour to while away before meeting the bank manager, I decide to take a stroll down memory lane and take in some of my old haunts. The weather is, in turn, cloudy and menacing, sunny and optimistic. Wandering around my old quartier is likewise bittersweet.

There are things which make me smile knowingly – grateful for their constancy. The makeshift sign in the traiteur‘s shop – proudly boasting that once again, this year, they are the national champions “dans la fabrication du fromage de tête!”, for example. I beg you, please do not enlighten me as to what “fromage de tête” is, it’s one of those things I’d rather die not knowing. I fear it has more to do with heads than cheese, and that’s as far as I’m willing to let my mind venture.

A few paces further, nostrils teased by the pungent aroma of spit roasting chickens, I see the butcher’s assistant and note with amusement his familiar (drawn on) moustache with fanciful curlicues. He calls out a jovial “Bonjour Mademoiselle” as I pass, and I silently thank him for not saying Madame today.

Rue de la Roquette: the location of my first Parisian chez moi, crammed full of ghosts, mice and the odd cockroach. I see my younger self meandering tipsily homewards in the early hours, blissfully unaware of the existence of Guy Georges. A carefree, reckless me, buying fresh croissants at 5.30 am after a night dancing at the Rex club; pupils swollen to the size of saucers. A less jaded me, striding out into the city armed with my guidebook, determined to explore every inch of the city on foot.

I pass my laundrette (immortalised in the film Chacun cherche son chat) where girls sit flicking idly through magazines, while the warmth and hum of spin cycles lulls them into a pleasant torpor.

Glancing at my watch, I am startled out of my rêverie and hasten to retrace my steps towards the bank. I don’t have enough time to venture along rue Richard Lenoir, to the old apartment Mr Frog and I shared opposite the Gymnase Japy, where Tadpole was conceived.

But I’ll be back.

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