by Chloe Cotter
Last week a friend asked when was the last time I’d felt happy.
“When…” no, not then. “It was…” no, not then either.
Don’t get me wrong, I have lots to be happy about. I’m a young writer spending my days drinking espresso on the sun-bathed terraces of Paris, and I have a family back home in Vancouver that loves me very much.
It’s just that the ever-present futility of existence weighs down on every moment and reminds me that I’m just a step away from losing it all.
This morning as I walked along the paths of the Buttes Chaumont, I looked at my arms and they didn’t feel like they were a part of me. The sun was shining, warming my skin, but I felt completely translucent, like I didn’t even exist.
I sat down on a bench to steady myself and stare into the space above the pond to think of the nothing that comes to mind when I think of being happy.
Then I thought about that time he hit me like the coward he is and how I packed up my shit while he was at work and moved out like the coward I am. And how I found myself on the other side of the world continuing the search for meaning in other people and things and meals and glasses of Bordeaux and the rainbow haze of the Sagrada Familia and the red-lit rooms of De Wallen.
And I thought about being suspended in time and space and how the whole city, the whole world, is talking nonchalantly about the meaning of life. About our translucent bodies. About how no matter how far we go, no matter how far or how fast you move, there is no escaping our fate.
PHOTO: The author in Paris, August 2015.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote a much longer version of this piece after a particularly difficult experience with trying to integrate myself into the French culture. It wasn’t difficult to talk to or share stories and food with my new French friends, but rather it felt immensely heavy to deal with the reality of being a perpetual wanderer, and having a deep-set need to always move away from difficulties. And not only that — now that I’d found a place (Paris) that I wanted to stay in, the bureaucracy of travel visas stated that my sejour there would have to come to an end eventually, and I was lost with where to move to next.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chloe Cotter is currently working on her first novel, and is the writer behind thekittenlife.com. She is a perpetual wanderer, originally from Vancouver and currently based in Montreal. She spent 2015 eating and drinking her way across France, finding inspiration in everything. She is a foster cat mama, French enthusiast, and consciousness seeker. Visit her on social media — twitter @chloefcotter, instagram @thekittenlife, and her website, thekittenlife.com.