Once more, I’m in a train back home, leaving my beloved Paris behind.
I still haven’t figure out how I could afford to settle back permanently there. My professional situation is more complicated than ever in this post-Covid19 world.
A few days before my trip to Paris, I got in touch with an old BFF I hadn’t seen or talk to in about 30 years. It was a little earthquake in my head to suddenly be able to communicate with someone who knew me when I was still playing with Barbie dolls. She is my oldest friend left from the childhood years. And I’m not really sure I can call her a « friend » in fact because we’ve grown older apart. What if I met her now? Or what if we had stayed in contact all these years? Would we still be a part of each other’s lives?
I was as much a character from her story, as she was a character from my own narrative. But what kind of character? That is really what I’m wondering. What little parts of you stay with the people you meet along the years?
Still, my memories from being 12 are filled with her presence. Her family. Our sleepovers on Friday nights. Our vacation in Brittany. Our karaoke sessions in her room…
Her dad, this colourful Russian figure who used to hand kiss my mother when they met.
Our obsession with the 60s outfits.
Then later, the boys. The first kisses. And that’s when we stopped being on the same page!
I wonder what she remembers of me. Our first messages last week have stayed relatively light up to now and I haven’t dared going into heavier, deeper conversations. But I really wish she would tell me if she missed me. If she thought about me. If she mentioned my name when showing old photos to her kids for example? Did she wonder what kind of woman I became? Because I did.
And also… if we were to meet again… I wonder if my face moves the same way. Would I recognise the way she talks? Did we keep some of our mimics? Behind the wrinkles and the grey hair, what part of the 12-year old survived?
When my daughter is older, she’ll have so many photos and videos or her life that most of her memories will be clear and vivid. But people from older generations have much less material to help the mind keeping every past moments safe somewhere in the brain?
When visiting the Père Lachaise cemetery least week with my daughter, we imagined what this sort of place could become in the future… Imagine an hologram SIRI style, linked with each grave. Each person could choose to record varied messages available to be played by their visitors. A simple love message. Or a little obituary including a brief biography of the deceased person? Depending on how sudden the death was, the notice would be more of less complete.
Imagine Oscar Wilde’s hologram for example: I’m Oscar Wilde. I died at Paris last Friday, in my forty-fifth year. I was the son of Sir William Wilde, an eminent Irish surgeon, and my mother was a woman of considerable literary ability. I died in the Maison du Perier, Due des Beaux Arts, in the Latin Quarter. It is a small, obscure hotel, at which I had been living for several months under the name of Manmoth. In 1895 I disappeared from public life. My life is one of the saddest in English literature. My abilities were sufficient to win me an honoured place as a man of letters, but they struggled in vain against my lack of character...
How extraordinary to be able to visualise those you are no longer…
I wish I could have more videos of my childhood. The few Super 8mm videos I had of me as a toddler have been lost by a careless shop 15 years ago when I wanted to have them transferred on a CD. I wish I could have kept this visual testimony.
Now that I think about it, the child « Me » is just like a dead person. Even though I have memories of this person, we will never meet again.