Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More on Heartbreak a la Francaise

I'm reading a fabulous book of essays on living in Paris from writers of all disciplines. The book, Paris Was Ours, is curated by Penelope Rowlands and features a piece by a writer named Caroline Weber on love in the City of Light. She writes,

. . .the confusion that attends most affairs of the heart is generally, in Paris, taken to be as inexplicable and incontravertable as the weather. Indeed, it has always surprised me that the American TV series Sex and the City should enjoy such popularity among parisiennes, who are not given to the kind of anguished relationship dissection in which the show's lead female characters endlessly indulge. In real life, as in Sex and the City, a New Yorker asking, "Why hasn't he called me?" or, "How could he leave me?" is entitled to at least a few solid hours of thoughtful analysis (of the relationship's ups and downs), soothing complements (for herself), and righteous indignation (against the man in question) from her girlfriend. In Paris, such a response is as hard to come by as, well, fat people or fake butter. There, a woman's interlocutor will merely offer her a blasé   "C'est comme ça" -- accompanied by a slight shrug that says, "In the face of such existential absurdity, cherie, calm acceptance in the only way. Now let's hit the thalasso spa and see what we can do about your cellulite."

Let me tell you, this passage hit me like a ton of bricks. I have been going over the minutiae, the nuances, the astrological implications of my- and a girlfriend's borderline imaginary relationships not for a mere couple of hours but literally for months now. Every day, via text, via phone, via email. And for what? Something about this passage brought the message home to me: he loves you or he doesn't. What can you do about it? Not a lot. But you can and you should love yourself.

And that really is the basis of this month-long project I'm doing here.

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