The King & the Bird, or the first time you held me in Paris


The apartment was blue, and it wasn’t cold. Moving pictures, paper princesses flashed across the screen, and I watched from behind your tousled brown hair, as the strands tickled the tip of my nose.

I was in a typical Parisian apartment, and by that I mean it was filled with unanswered questions, unexplored corners, cigarette smoke and no pressing need to change any of that. I liked that I didn’t know who lived in the other room. Your flatmate, you murmured, was on an extended trip exploring Asia. But his room seemed lived in. Clothes sprinkled the floor; a sapphire-tinted guitar leaned against the sweet, sky colored walls.

Who lived here with you? But I won’t ask now. The white-light of the movie you picked casts bright shadows across the room. “You’ll enjoy it, you said. “Tu l’aimeras.” And I did, but I liked that you thought I would, too.

The movie seemed painted. It’s called Le Roi et l’oiseau, you explained. I smiled, not understanding. I don’t remember it being in French, but do fairytales really need to be understood word for word? The evil king is in love with a painting of a beautiful shepherdess, who in turn loves the chimney sweep. The paintings come alive at midnight and they try to escape the castle.

The cross-eyed king chases them to the lower city, where the people, in this story, have never seen the light of the sun.

Paris Left Bank
Left Bank, Paris, 1964. Alfred Eisenstaedt.

Suddenly the apartment catches the glow of La Tour Eiffel, which illuminates on the hour. “You can’t see it from here’, you said, ‘but look at the sky. It’s brighter.” And It really was.

Then you fell asleep, while the king was still chasing the two lovers down surreal stairs, geometrically painted, the high tower of the film propped up against its cerulean sky. They escaped & flew away on the bird together. You told me before you closed your eyes that the staircases are reminiscent of l’escalier de Montmartre, in the 18th arrondissement.  And the castle you see, “well, the director Paul Grimaut made it a likeness of Le Sacré-Coeur, the highest point in all of Paris.” I listened.

I didn’t know then that we would live there one day, that we would leave this place. I would climb Paris’s highest stairs too.  I would know that somewhere below, among the lights, stood a little blue apartment.

The movie ended and I couldn’t bear to move you. You had fallen asleep where we started, head on my chest, you smelled like smoke and chocolate and I felt too warm, but I just let Le Roi et l’oiseau start again.


This love story starts when I became Homeless in Paris. Check under the ‘Paris’ category for more!

Pleats and Keats




5 thoughts on “The King & the Bird, or the first time you held me in Paris”

    1. Thank you for the sweet comment! I’m just starting out so I’m still trying to improve and find new ways to develop the blog. Writing about Paris is going to be a staple! Thanks for the encouragement 🙂

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