Alive! by Pia Copper

Alive! by Pia Copper

Lautomne, even the word seems rich. It falls off your tongue and lingers in the recesses of your throat, an echo of how absolutely blissful it all is. Deep, sensual, ripe, overwhelming with sensation. I always feel more alive in the fall, especially in Paris.

I am walking now, my trench coat open over a leather lace skirt, high heels with black stockings, slightly torn now and ready to fall down. I feel warm.

Everything is enveloping me. The whole of Paris, its soft, honey-coloured buildings, its even alleys of trees, its cobbled, hobbled streets. I can feel the paving stones under my shoes. I can feel it all.

Brown suede. High heels, of course. A sort of testimony to the fact that I am becoming more and more French every year, a transfuge. I am seeping into these old stones as they are seeping into me. I feel how necessary it is to be perched, balancing, an elegance to it.

I am a woman, still even a young woman, over the edge of 40, but with a childlike curiosity that will never leave me. I will never stop dreaming.

The crinkle of autumn leaves. Mostly chestnut. The tiny explosions overhead. When I reach the river, the long, tall, leggy shadows of the trees reflected on the 18th century façades of Paris when the bateaux-mouches purr by, a blur of light and softness.

It is getting dark now. Time to stop at a café for a little glass of red wine, a Burgundy perhaps, the velvet colour of it, the voluptuousness.

I love the mildewed yellow walls, the amarante-coloured benches. It is so cold in here, but I have a soft scarf wrapped around my neck for warmth, another concession to this country, its ways of thinking. I take my pen and scribble some thoughts on my carnet—everything seems so full of meaning, so overwhelming real. I know there is meaning in even the little things. I just have to write it all down, to capture it. This is what it is, to live.

I watch the people. They are the same breed as me: free thinkers, dreamers, bohemians, believers in life as a drug, as a potion, as an essence to be distilled.

Cities attract their kind and the strange melancholy of Paris is suited to the outsiders, the wanderers, the dreamers, the jouisseurs. To walk, to walk, perchance to love.

I remember even the beauty mark high on his back, the musky, manly smell of him lying beneath the crisp sheet. It was sweet somehow.

I remember the books behind us, their titles, a whirr of memory, lives intertwined. Bodies. The hum of the city itself. I remember everything in the room. I am sure I will always remember it.

It is so good when the spirit takes us, when we are overwhelmed with desire, suddenly overtaken. Paris, the memory lingering until evening. I feel so alive. My eyes, my ears, my hands, my body.  Alive!

 pia, george + ferlingetti

Pia outside the bookshop with George Whitman (centre) and Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Pia Camilla Copper is an art curator and advisor, specializing in Chinese art. She worked at Shakespeare and Company from 1993, on and off for ten years, while she was studying Chinese at the Sorbonne.