“We rented an apartment on Avenue Trudaine. The place was on the third floor and overlooked Square D’Anvers, which was a short downhill walk from Sacre Coeur. A farmers market convened beside the tree-lined square. There was quite a crowd when we arrived. Anne wanted to nap off the long flight, but I was ready to begin exploring immediately. I had never been to Paris, and already, I was smitten.
It was August, sunny and temperate. At the market, my goodness, the colors of fruit, the variety! The olives! The nuts and spices! The French prunes! Row upon row of hale-looking tomatoes and eggplants and strawberries and all kinds of produce that made one imagine the most fertile of soil, capable of sprouting infinite abundance, endless and undying versions of natural sustenance.
I drifted into the square, where a playground and gazebo stood. On a green and red slide, several children swooped down. On the seesaw, twin girls crested and dropped. Though I had never felt any gut-level pinings for parenthood, Anne and I had reached an age when all of our friends had kids. Reproduction seemed like the correct, next box to check despite the fact we were obviously free to choose. A mom and dad sat in the gazebo and observed their playing children from afar, speaking Italian. I inhaled the fresh Parisian air and imagined Anne and myself in the couple’s place.
Then I saw him.
He wore a red turtleneck sweater. He squatted and spoke French to his daughter, who was a toddler and Eurasian. He buttoned up her jacket.
He looked just like me. He was me.”