A Parisian Portrait : Alain, the bouquinist

P1190210I was secretly thrilled with myself for having resolved to lug my camera around with me all day, the day I met Alain. I was wandering along the Seine, happily snapping shots of everything that pleased me, not a care in the world could bother me that day. I had free time, I live in Paris, and Spring was peeking its head around the corner. Trees started sprouting vibrant green tufts of leaves and plush pale flower buds. The rain came and went as I happily popped my red umbrella out only to tuck back in my bag a few minutes later. The sky was a manic mess of gray clouds and blue patches. It was wonderful. I felt similar to myself a decade ago when I had a student’s luxurious schedule and could wander from café to book shop on a whim.

I was wandering past the famous bouquinist boxes along the river when I spied him, this wrinkled and weathered little Frenchman, pulling books out of the path of another impending rain shower. He did so methodically, without rush, handling each of the volumes with a delicate gesture that attested to his love for books, words and literature. A little rain did not scare him. I wondered how many years of stress and worry taught him how to react with such serenity. Or maybe he was born with serenity. I am sure in his style of life, stress is not a helpful factor. Continue reading