I forgot it was Bastille Day two days ago until I saw a girl I had gone to college with post about watching the fireworks by the Eiffel Tower on Facebook. She’s studying abroad. All her Instagram captions are in broken French.
Bastille Day means almost nothing to me, but last Bastille Day I was in Couilly-Pont-aux-Dames with this crazy farmer who I swear used to shut off the wifi in his house so that the other American and I would have to sit in the living room with him, rather than FaceTime our friends back home. I would spend most of this forced bonding time lying on my stomach and copying down information from the other American’s guidebook for the following week when I’d be in Paris by myself. Or I’d fall asleep on the farmer’s son’s childhood bed which was almost too small for me and the blankets were itchy and the pillows were falling apart. He used to make fun of me for sleeping all the time (I am horrible at French, but I could tell he was definitely making fun of me—he did it often).
Anyway, we were for some reason forbidden to go to the firework show that this little rural town was hosting (I went to lectures in college with more people than the total population of this town) and so last Bastille Day I remember sitting on the floor of the living room (the wifi was turned off) and watching fireworks on the tiny television this farmer had set up for us. The experience was not as glamorous as the girl I went to college with’s Facebook post.
The weirdest part of remembering all of this—memories that aren’t even interesting to me, let alone other people—is that I suddenly remembered that on Bastille Day last year he had messaged me and asked if I was still in California or if I had moved to New York already and I really thought nothing of it at the time but now it makes me actually livid that I used to feel nothing and now I feel everything.
Bastille Day was on a Friday this year, and this particular Friday the office was quiet and I was in a room by myself and I had plans for after work and it was raining and so I felt calm and even happy (???) right before I realized it had been a year since I was sitting down on the living room floor in this farmer’s house in France and had received that message from him and thought nothing of it at the time.
To say I’m surprised by how much changes even within just a year is so stupidly cliché and unnecessary of me. I feel like I sometimes write as if I’m the first person to ever experience very simple and common revelations and it drives me nuts because of course every living and breathing human being could tell you, yeah, things change a lot in a year. They’re supposed to. I’m not special.
But it made me sad to think about Bastille Day last year and not feeling anything to a year later when I want to throw my computer across the room if my mind even recognizes that he still exists without my consent.
The fact that I felt nothing a year ago and feel everything now only gives me hope that in a year I will feel nothing again. I don’t want to say that it’d be great if things went back to normal—I don’t know what constitutes as normal for me—but I just can’t wait for the point when I realize none of this really matters anyway.