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Nonfiction by Hilary Gan
Paris is good for heartbreak because no one smiles at you on the street and all the signs are blue with white letters. It is good for heartbreak because it has hosted slow deaths longer than your love affair and more conquering armies than drinks you've shared. Paris is good for heartbreak because they’ve made so many movies about it that nothing is true about Paris anymore and yet gypsies still play accordions in red doorways. Paris is good for heartbreak because even the old men who harass you on the Metro don't mean anything by it and the Seine is dirty and not at all inviting.
Paris is good for heartbreak because the trees are greater than your memories, and because the Louvre has graffiti tags on its street-side walls and you will know that really nothing is sacred and that’s a good thing. Paris is good for heartbreak because Hemingway probably said so over a gin and tonic at the cafe on your corner and if he didn't you can. Paris is good for heartbreak because you will never really speak the language, and because if it isn't made of stone then it is made of wrought iron or flowers. Paris is good for heartbreak because you must buy fresh bread every morning, which is a good reason to get out of bed.
Paris is good for heartbreak because you will turn what you think is the same corner you turned yesterday and, instead of the patisserie, find a park with ancient elms and fountains twined into creaking arches. Paris is good for heartbreak because it is close to London and you can go to London, notice how clean it is, and then go back to Paris, which is much better for heartbreak than London. Paris is good for heartbreak because it is easy to hate the couples on the Champs de Mars with their clothes mostly askew but it is also easy to become part of such a couple when your old prom date takes a weekend hiatus from a vacation in Amsterdam to come see the city. Paris is good for heartbreak because when your old prom date gets back on the train you can go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, spit, and pretend it hit one of those couples.
Paris is good for heartbreak because all the rooms are small and you can fill them easily with your noisy American clothing and personality. It is good for heartbreak because it takes very little effort to get indignant over the prices the cafes charge for a carafe of water and how much ice they stubbornly won't put in your soda. Paris is good for heartbreak because soccer is a game you can care about from inside a cafe when the bartender is fast and fair with his pours and the insults the French people yell at the televisions sound like music. Paris is good for heartbreak because nobody cares if you are heartbroken and they don't expect you to care if they are, either.
Paris is good for heartbreak because there are many roads, and none of them lead to the same place. It is good for heartbreak because it is not like New York and there are a few hours every night when everything is quiet, although you can probably still get a taxi if you need one. Paris is good for heartbreak because even when the bars and the Metro are closed you will find you have a bottle of wine in your room or at least a pen and paper. Paris is really good for heartbreak because when you lose your friends during la Fete de la Musique and wind up in a restaurant courtyard where other quiet people are having dinner you will hear trumpet notes echo over the rooftops and sigh in relief.
Other than these few reasons any place is just as good as Paris for heartbreak.
Born in the backwoods of the Empire State and sentenced to a lifetime of walking into furniture, Hilary moved to Arizona in 2003 and intends to write her little heart out from that locale evermore. Her debut story, “The Pragmatist,” appeared in Jersey Devil Press and was selected as a Million Writers Award Notable Story. She likes dirty blues music, fluffy kittens, and egomaniacs.
Volume 1, Issue 7
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