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Eight months after leaving it, I return to the street covered in hearts. I return to the second-floor flat with its peeling paint and creaking hardwood floors; the candles and oats still stashed in the back of the pantry, the walls bare now.

*

Three months is so short a period of time; a blur of a moment. A half-gone parenthesis in between places that is almost over, already.

*

It takes my breath away, life here. More often than not it is hours spinning away, lost, quicksand between my fingers dark in the night, pressing my hands to my ribs and breathing, remembering to eat, today. When it rains I open the windows and listen, because things are finally quiet.

*

And yet Paris feels familiar, this time around; for the first time her streets feel like home. She is long walks – pockets of time where the light turns molten and gold, the air sharp with the promise of winter. The people from the burrito place answer in Spanish now, easy smiles, and there are bars where I have a standing order and a spot that is mine, tucked against a brick wall.

I am discovering what it is like to be a regular somewhere, and I like it.

*

The good looks something like this: dancing on a Sunday morning, a Basil plant that flowers in the fall, lazy conversations with my roommate, washing chlorine out of my hair, a guitar and a handful of new songs, laughter that is easy.

It looks like saying yes. To the coffee date, to the drink, to the adventure, to the movie tickets, to the dinner at home.

*

I drink my fill of the people that are here and hold them close. I let myself be loved and do my best to love better. I learn to ask for hugs.

I lean into brand-new friendships – careful, full speed ahead, vulnerable because that is what I have been learning, over these past months: that vulnerable is a good thing. Some of them taste of could-have-beens; the flickering feelings of kinship that only asked for time to grow into flame, and three months is not enough. But for now, they are true, and that is beautiful and enough.

*

Paris this time around tastes a lot like love, and what a good thing that is.

 

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