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I had saved Paris as the last destination of my Euro trip to be there for my sister’s birthday. I believe it was her third year in France, but neither me nor her could verify this as our memory's capacity is filled with 90's sitcoms quotes, leaving no room for menial information. 

I was standing shoulder to shoulder with two strangers who I was secretly using to carry my weight and keep me warm on the train. In one of the stops, a black woman entered the train holding her little kid’s hand. Kid couldn’t have been more than 3. His puffy cheeks were any grandma's dream and his almond eyes moved around trying to take it all in without a blink, while his chubby lower lip dropped, and a bubble of saliva kept forming in the corner of his mouth. A redheaded teenager with huge headphones on offered the woman her seat. The woman wasn’t old, but she looked like she could use some rest. I’m not known for being emotional, if anything, I’m known for being the opposite, but for some reason this gesture made my eyes teary. As soon as the woman sat, she let go of her kid’s hand. He stumbled under the weight of his puffer coat, and the pom pom on his beanie bounced around with every train jerk. He locked his eyes on me for five seconds (it was probably my long curly hair that always catches kid’s non-subtle stares). I smiled at him. He extended his arms with his hands shaped like claws and walked like an astronaut towards me. He stood right next to me and offered me his pinky. I grabbed his tiny pinky with mine, and we just stood like that. I felt the slow stream of a single tear drop travel through my face. We both looked and smiled at each other, and he went back to his mother. Thank you for this moment kid. Have a great life. 

I arrived to Paris. It was pretty I guess. It didn’t really shock me at first, but what does nowadays. There’s too much information available about everything to be shocked by anything anymore. Or perhaps I was too predisposed to be shocked. I didn’t make too much of it. “Maybe it’ll come”. 

I had the instructions my sister had given me on how to take the metro to get to her neighborhood, but my former self had underestimated the difficulty of the task. I’m always too optimistic in these types of situations, I trust that one way or another they’ll get solved; convenient transportation will somehow become available, closed doors somehow will get open. No phone signal, no problem. “Excuse moi Messieur, je dois arriver a Nation” I said to a man in glasses. When in doubt, ask the man in glasses. He replied in English, which was disappointing, I thought I had nailed the gargle sounding R’s and the accent on the last syllable and whatnot.  

I arrived at Nation and got out of the underground realm to search for my sister’s apartment with less than clear information. Once again, the Gods rewarded my lack of preparedness. As soon as I climbed up the stairs I heard a “Diegoooooo”. My sister and her girlfriend were waving at me from the balcony of the third floor of a very Parisian-like building. “Ehhhhhhhhh” I replied with open arms. I walked to the building while they walked down to greet me. Smiles, hugs, kisses, English, French, Spanish, jokes, laughs, tears. “Joyeux anniversaire!” I put my arm around my sister like a kid; “Merci, merci, brother”; “Alright now, less pleasantries and more pasteries, stuff me like a goose! If it’s not cheese, I don’t wanna hear about it". They laughed.

“If that’s what you want, you’re in for treat. Let’s go up” my sister said. 

The interior of the building had that famous European charm, which is to say, it was old and tiny. We took the stairs because the elevator looked two centuries old, we didn’t trust it could handle my bag, it probably couldn’t even fit it. Plus, my sister never took the elevator anyways because “ghosts”. 

We entered the apartment and ​I sat on the couch whilst getting acclimatized to this specific vignette. The location: My sister’s apartment in Paris. The characters: My sister who’s now a lesbian, her girlfriend, and myself. Ok, got it, roll scene! 

My sister’s girlfriend brought a cheese platter large enough to feed a family of human sized mice for a year. It had everything, from the mild and delicate to the radioactive, purple-line-in-the-middle, die-if-you-taste-it kinda cheese. Each one ripped off a piece of baguette and passed it around. It was a damn good cheese platter, you gotta give it to the French. The first bottle of champagne was over before we took the second bite. So was the first box of cigarettes. I smoked to fit in, trying to avoid swallowing the smoke whenever they weren’t paying attention. Then came the red wine. I struggled to keep up. Those two can drink and smoke like there’s no tomorrow. 

We chatted and laughed for a couple of hours while working on the monarchical banquet, but, fun as we were having, at some point we all understood it was time to move our purple cheeks and swollen stomachs to the outside world before the couch would swallow us whole. Trench coats on, lipstick and powder for the ladies and off to the streets of Folie-Méricourt. My sister and her girlfriend were excited about going out with such beautiful weather, which, as I learned, can be defined as "not raining".

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