Clemence is French. When saying her name, the second “e” is meant to sound like an “a”. I enjoy spending time with her. During the weekend we watched an old Jean Paul Belmondo movie. Belmondo is a tough guy, but also a funny one, running around Paris karate-chopping, punching and kicking at long haired seventies villains; cracking witticisms all along while he does it. Clemence feels a little embarrassed by Mr. Belmondo and explains to me that he is not to be taken as a parameter of what French cinema has to offer. I smile and ask her who she thinks would win a fight between Belmondo and Bronson. She looks up, thinks and then says, “That is not possible, Belmondo and Bronson would never fight each other, they are both good guys, yes?”, and looks at me as if she’d just had to explain something to a not very bright child. She knows her Seventies tough guys: Bronson, Belmondo, McQueen, Eastwood, Marvin, Coburn and even a few I can’t place. Her father would watch these movies every other weekend with Clemence and her sisters when he was still studying and her mother had a weekend shift. Her father is 55, fifteen years older than I am. We both have the same profession although not the same area of specialty. She tells me it is strange to find similar attitudes, opinions and verbal mannerisms in two persons who are so different, so she asks to know my opinion on it. I tell her the psychoanalytical implications of this are better left unexamined for our own sake. She opens her eyes wide in mock shock and then smiles.
Clemence has seen many things, good and bad, has lived in Nepal and India, traveled through Africa and laughs with innocence. She does not believe in religion. She asks personal questions with a very serious expression on her eyes; listening then, no matter how long the answer is, with intent attention. When I asked, she told me the story of her tattoos, two small ones on her wrists. I listened without interrupting. When she was done, I nodded, we both fell silent for a while and then I asked her if she wanted more tea. She drinks tea. Darjeeling. I drink expresso, black and with no sugar or cream, just like her father. She is falling in love with me and I with her, we know it, but we’re also both cowards when it comes to love; she will run out and I won’t go after her, we’ll both then tell our respective friends that it just wasn’t meant to be. And now that I think about it, this post is the beginning of our goodbye.