TODAY’S WRITING TIP: TRAVEL.
I discovered it in George Melly’s Paris and the Surrealists, a picture book I bought from a street vendor in downtown New York.
For many years, it gave me so much pleasure to dwell upon it, what 1920s French poets André Breton and Louis Aragon considered sacred ground for the Surrealist movement. I’d ask my Parisian friends but no one knew of it, not even of the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, where it was. This was in the mid-‘90s and Friends was all the rage, but it took me a while to realize the painting in Monica’s living room was some kind of a pop art rendition of the park.
I resolved to see it and soon planned a trip. The park was in the 19th Arrondissement on the right bank of the Seine. On the Métro, I boarded line 7 to Botzaris, where my train stopped at what seemed to be the bowels of the earth, from which I had to take an elevator with a creepy old man in a dirty coat and a creepier young woman with purple hair. Deep in this pit, in this decrepit station, Paris was filthy, worn, rundown.
So was the public park, where I was surprised no one knew about what I was looking for. At the Belvedere of Sybil, I saw two men kissing. In every corner, some coupling was going on and the occasional loner would have no answer for me.
And then—whoa!—there it was, the Suicide Bridge, suspended over the lake at a height of 22 meters. I recognized it from the pictures by Michael Woods in Melly’s book. No doubt, it was worthy of its name. The proof, to my consternation, was the barbed wire added to the railings to prevent any more suicide, possibly including mine. Still, it was surreal, as peaceful as death, an invitation into the abyss.
With slow, deliberate steps, I crossed the bridge and lit a cigarette to mark the moment.
This week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge is on the word ‘Dwell,’ whose third definition in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary is “to keep the attention directed–used with on or upon.” Click link to join.
Today’s Daily Prompt is Whoa (What’s the most surreal experience you’ve ever had?).