The Paris Journal

An excerpt from book one

UNLIKE NEW YORK, PARIS IS THE CITY THAT SLEEPS. No matter how early you wake up in New York, you’ve already missed it. Someone was up earlier. Something already happened. Someone else caught the worm. But here, a long silence reigns from about 2:00am until dawn. Then, when the sun rises, you have the pleasure of waking up with everyone else. Notable exceptions: Me, bakers, and drunk twenty-something Brits.

My head aches from the jet lag and lack of sleep, but the cool damp air helps. I’m here to watch the city wake up. Like a creepy, stalky girlfriend, I want to watch it open its eyes. Good morning, lover. Whatcha thinking about? I walk toward the Pont Saint-Louis, glancing around for the first sign of people. None, so I jog. The light show is about to begin. The cloudless sky grows brighter by the minute, then the sun emerges from behind the rooftops along the right bank. To the south, the light grazes the roofs of the tallest Haussmann buildings on the Île Saint-Louis. It slowly creeps down the dormer windows set out from the mansard roofs, then down further to the balconies. Elaborate, lacy shadows gain definition and dance between the intricate stonework and wrought iron.

The sunrise has already claimed two full rows of windows. They reflect light onto the entire length of the bridge, and a tall double window near the edge of the building casts a fiery orange onto me. Behind that double window, someone feels the warmth on his eyelids. Rise and shine! The Sun King calls! Time for your morning ablutions! Time to saunter down the boulevards!

The light drips like white paint down the stone facade, reaching the second floor, where a man opens his window to let it in. He peeks out from behind an impressive gray mustache to assess the weather. He squints down-river, then toward the street below where a petite woman sees him and waves good morning. Wife? Neighbor? Definitely mistress.

When the sunlight finally reaches the water, it gilds the reflection of the buildings and trees with gold. The water sparkles as it flows under the bridge, then bounces the light onto its stone underbelly. In a few minutes, the sun will rise high enough to reach over the tops of the right bank buildings, and will dress the streets in a uniform of pale yellow. But in these last few moments, everything is orange and pink and ephemeral. It illuminates the island like a hall of natural mirrors.

A moped roars by, straining second gear. Somewhere in the interior of the island, a dog barks, and a woman barks back. The spell is broken, and Monsieur Moustache is down on the street now, waiting for his dog to sniff a tangle of grass. The day is bright and full of possibility. And here I am standing still. Time to go.

Thank you for reading an excerpt from The Paris Journal! Download Book One here:

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