Whenever I leave my camera at home, there is, inevitably, a moment I happen upon that will never, ever be repeated, and one that I would really have liked to capture in digital form for future amusement and memory recall. Like today, for instance.
As I moseyed up rue de la Roquette, a police van with siren blaring blasted up the skinny one-way street, stopping suddenly on the corner just a half-block ahead. Walking closer to the van, I could see through the tinted windows a man in a crisp, button-down shirt handcuffed in the back, three officers sitting across from and beside him. Just then, another officer came running out of the boulangerie on the corner bearing a siren-worthy baguette, a sheath of paper twisted around the middle. All that fuss for a stick of bread? Honestly! Or how about the woman at Starbucks (I returned again today; I hope this doesn’t become habit), awkwardly eating her chocolate-chip muffin with a spoon? Just shove the damn thing in your mouth, lady. That’s the way we do it in America! And hey: Starbucks sells pancakes—yes, regular old flapjacks—in little stacks, right alongside the muffins and scones in the glass case at the counter. What’s that all about? Yesterday, coming home from the Bibliotheque Parmentier, I walked toward the Mairie de l’Onzieme, lured by the sound of live music—drums and tambourine, mostly. As I rounded the corner to the square in front of the Mairie, I saw it was another wedding taking place (each arrondissement has its own town hall, which is a popular place to get married, just like San Francisco’s City Hall). This time, the nuptials were of the North African variety. Four men in red tunics, matching pants, and pillbox hats pounded on their drums and shook their tambourines, while a crowd of smiling men and women formed a dancing circle around the bride and groom, who were each dressed in traditional western wedding wear. Women in hijabs took turns ululating, and the men held their hands above their heads, snapping their fingers. It was a beautiful scene that prompted spontaneous tears--joyful ones. Today as I passed the same spot, I noticed butterfly-sized confetti shaped like hearts littering the square like leaves from a fairytale arbre d’amour. It warmed my heart. Maybe love is the answer, but, then, what is the question?