There were mesh sandals and tracksuits. Accents. Large, boisterous families. Roller bags designed in foreign countries. A frighteningly boring safety video as we took off from Dublin. An empty Paris airport, escalators pointing in every direction. Glamorous men and women bubbling – sucking cigarettes. And us — me and Kelsey watching and sucking cigarettes as well, doing our best to blend in, maybe even add something to the mix.
In Biarritz there was pumping surf and sun-bathing women. The very first night we stood by the ocean, clutching beer, listening to a DJ play disco with ink running down his arms. He swayed and flicked the mixer – someone in the crowd cooed.
It felt good to be away from the entrance of a restaurant or the sliding doors of a bus. Ordering beer was easy, but other things – really basic shit – like asking for water or the bill, was still awkward.
But somehow we’d woken up in a central vein of French coolness, masked by cigarette smoke and a speedy, hip-spinning beat. The music swelled – getting faster – two women approached the mixing board with carefree intention.
I lit another cigarette, surely the last of the night, and passed it to Kelsey. The smoke curled around us, rising to join other trails of smoke winding up towards the hill. With each puff I felt more at ease, just another glowing ember in the night.