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Every day since I arrived in Paris, I have gone to the same bookstore,the one next to the Panthéon. I’m convinced  it’s where I’m going to find god. The tables outside are a forgettable shade of beige. When I settle into them, the waitress says “Hello” before I can greet her with “Bonjour.” I counter her judgment by placing a book entitled La Plaisanterie on the table. I wonder if this feeling of humiliation is god. 

Every day I don’t spend crying in Paris is another day I’m convinced I’m missing the point. God, if you’re there, help me cry. Help me look at the royal purple doors of Place Sainte-Geneviève and etch them into my memory with tears. Defeated, I walk up to the cashier and ask to buy their last slice of cake. I spent the prior 30 seconds believing that the cake was  as lonely and confused as me. But, perhaps the cake is just cake and the doors are just doors. She refused to let me pay. 

The silence of the bathroom doused me in forgiveness. There was no pressure to comprehend Paris’ consequential essence, nor pressure to feel my subsequent inconsequentiality. I ate the cake with my bare hands. Looking in the mirror, I started to cry. Not because god finally bestowed unto me the secret of  living with purpose, but because I was eating cake in the bathroom. What kind of person eats cake in the bathroom? 

A knock on the door. I remember how inconvenient it is to have revelations when the practicalities of life still exist. 

Walking away, I remembered the half-eaten cake that remained on the counter. I never went back to the bookstore again.

-Isabella Panico

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