Saturday, 13 July 2013


Nicolas was inside when I got back to my flat in Paris. He had not returned the keys and therefore could break in as he pleased. I was furious.  A few days before he had written another one of those farewell letters stating that he was excluding me out of his life. For what strange reason would he come again to my place, let himself in as if nothing had happened, as if he owned me and the place? I was seized by an unpleasant, almost frightening impression that something was not right. If I had always tried to be careful so not to hurt his delicate feelings in the past, be understanding, be forgiving even when he had been particularly nasty and violently insulting, I didn't try this time to contain my scorn. I demanded him to give the keys back and leave on the spot. I had never spoken to him like that in the past and to express myself that freely almost felt ecsatic. He kept silent, showed no sign of remorse, obviously certain that the anger would soon wane away and that we would be the best of friends again. And the cycle would start again until the next bomb letter...
And it struck me. By what kind of magic trick was I in my Parisian flat? Hadn't I moved to Taipei three years ago already? As I realised that, the flat started to change shape and the dream morphed into something else.  

I was confused when I woke up from the dream. It seemed so real. His presence. The house... The end of a friendship isn't too dissimilar to the end of a love story, especially when the friendship has been the intense one I shared with Nicolas. This wasn't the first time. But I have the impression it is the last one. In the eight years that our friendship has spanned, I believe I must have gone through five breaking-ups with him. I must have lost count. The worst one must have been the one where he announced my untimely death. Those letters and the others where he expressed his agony at having such a terrible friend as I. Quite strangely, he would never have the courage to tell me anything face to face, so the news would come as an e-mail, a 'bomb' as I would call them.
But this time, I had to agree with him. I no longer felt the wish nor the strength to try to understand and keep on walking by his side. Being a friend means I am to see the people I love at their best and also at their worst. However, abusing and hurting one's friend in full conscience isn't part of the deal. His presence for two months at my place whilst looking for a flat had been smothering, heavy and ultimately destructive. I blamed it on the stars, I blamed it on the moon, I tried to distance myself from my growing anger by telling myself that Nicolas was finding himself in an uncomfortable spot. I blamed it on my own fragile psychological state, my moodiness and hypersensitivity. Anything to avoid seeing what I had to see.
But eventually I had to face the fact: I could not stand him anymore. I was hardly half-joking with a friend when I told him that being friend with Nicolas was like being in a relationship with the Central Government in China (or the Queen of Heart in Alice in Wonderland). His totalitarian attitude and touchy temperament did not allow much freedom of speech for people around him, a few careless or misplaced words and the person would be banned forever. There was no forgiveness. It's strange though.
The previous times he was staying with me had been joyful and happy. Maybe because the situation was different: he still had a flat then, whether in Paris or Kaohsiung. This past time, the cohabitation was tense and dry, devoid of any fun, especially toward the second half of his stay. This was probably due to the repeated failed attempts at finding his new flat. Wrapped up into himself, all I could see was a stingy, indifferent and downright egotistical person who displayed a lack of compassion for others that genuinely shocked me, more because he claims to be an englightened person, and therefore had me expect to see more signs of wisdom from him. Or were my ideas about wisdom a bit cliché...?
I don't want that to be the last thing I remember of Nicolas, even if that's part of who he is. I understand where he needs to go. I'm just concerned that this road he's taking will be a cruelly solitary one.
But there's not a thing I can do.
I love him. But I have moved on. As he said it himself in his last letter: "I'm deserting you". The battle is no longer worth fighting.

Nicolas with a little frog he found on the street

Listen to:

A song I wrote back in 1998, even before I had started writing song for myself. The composition of the song was motivated by a text that Michèle Atlani, the French popstress I was working with at the time, gave me. Her lyrics were about someone who leaves during a winter night. I cannot recall very precisely.
Then I decided to keep the song for myself and began to pen lyrics about the last night of a criminal who recalls times of yore, when he was still innocent and doing things for the very first time.
The song went through many transformations, was performed live at concerts and only found its final stage now. 

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