Like Hemingway, I was lucky enough to live in Paris as a young man, 28 to be exact. In fact, I thought about him a lot, trying to be like him and write in cafes. The fiction I penned at the time was awful, I later saw, but I had to start somewhere.
Of course, it was a romantic time, 1982, before AIDS was understood, the twilight of free love. There were lots of girls, French, Dutch, American, even an Israeli Lieutenant. But the snapshot I bring you today is of a single encounter with an English girl.
We met somewhere in public and, after avidly trying to get to know each other as fast as possible, headed out into the night. We walked up the Champs Elysees, excited by each other's presence, descended into the tunnel beneath the hurtling traffic of the Etoile de la Place Charles de Gaulle, and came up right under the Arc de Triomphe.
As we stood beneath the massive arch with the night, cars, and lights swirling all around us, there was nothing left to do but kiss. We were aflame, carried along on the intoxicating tide of Paris.
Then, the illusion broke: we were just two people whose paths had crossed. The rest was a denouement. We parted company awkwardly, went our ways, and never set eyes on each other again.
Still, imprinted in my mind is that moment: the swirling night — Paris — a boy and girl holding each other in timeless embrace.