The Importance of Where; A bi-weekly glance at Grayson Russell (#4)
Installment Four of Grayson Russell’s work: ‘A Sad, Evilly Run Cafe’
Here’s is the fourth installment of my good friend’s writings. This post is the first part of his essay titled “A Sad Evilly Run Cafe“. This story is something I know a little bit about–more than I probably should as far as he is concerned. I may pretend to know the evil cafe he is speaking of but I can’t actually know where it was and still is in his mind. Regardless, it’s a good piece and worth your eyes’ and ears’ time. If you’ve missed his other posts you can check them out below:
On Bars, Evictions, and Writing
“It was a sad evilly run café,” and I know it well enough, even though it has changed hands over the years and been renovated and immortalized and is some other place now not as evilly run nor as sad. I had made love on the same street, the same rue, long before I knew how it led up from the Seine and changed its name but held the same course in its long south western curve past where Hemingway and coincidentally Joyce had lived, before it flowed into the round at Place Contrescarpe. You will remember as I do the way the leaves were stripped from the trees, and how the wind drove the rain. I had made love there not once, but many times, and many times seen the rain fall over the slated grey roofs of Paris and the snow which was weakened that year by a longer summer, and although I knew the walk from Constescarpe to St. Michel like the folds of my hand, and the way I felt then in a way I knew would never be the same. I had known the wine and the way I would walk when I had too much too much to drink and there was nowhere left to go but one of the damaging and brightly lit bistros that were unwelcoming to someone in my condition. I did not know it then, not that night. I did not know until the last time I saw Paris, as aimless as I was, I wandered past the Rue de Ecoles, stepping into the hilt of a beautiful curve that would reveal to me, as I walked, the same thing it revealed to those who came before me.
Where I lived during that time, where I loved and famished, was not far from this area, not far from all the things I became and hasten to remember, even though they light in my mind with the affect a bird has, seen swiftly in the corner of the eye until the shadow has past. They are memories of living dangerously, but beautifully and they are lost now and they acquire over time a certain palette, a taste for the unfamiliar and a sort of sad convergence of courage and nostalgia. I write of this because I am moved to understand my reasons, moved to know and doubly forget. Somehow I broke with the old destinies, or was convinced to have broken with who I was and into who I might aspire to be, although I did not know at the time what path wavered into path, and as I smoked and drank, sitting by my window which overlooked an old Victorian garden, precise with a pond and a small rushing fountain, the pale blackened waters, silver in moments, the image of a weathered angel, and the open aired arbor above in late bloom and cessation, in all of its finality, it came to me; and yet it came very slowly but strikingly clear. There are those who always speak of leaving, of the dream of a better place, a better time, of things all too fair and senescent, of hopes and desires that have barely held root through the seasons of their first winter and are spoken of with a certain saddened tone because it reminds them of who they were before the frost and its damaging emptiness had caught them unaware. They have, and had, always spoken of leaving, and yet you never truly know what holds them, what secret link in the pattern could possibly restrain. I broke with who I was. I broke because the simplicity of that choir had lost its familiar voice. I broke. I simply lost the feeling for listening. I lost the care; and the weighted nuance of boredom, which some fear, and to others leaves a dry taste in their mouth, that lack of something, anything, carved such a banal and privileged place in my heart my soul drew its silence and the body of it became my weakness. I broke with the old destinies because they were the old the curses, the easy prelude, the quiet damnations.
I knew that then, as I had always known. In some secret and profound place I knew what it meant to be close to the willing edge.