Happy Night

Here’s an excerpt, because the rest deserves to maintain its intimacy, from letter I sent to a lover after a poetry reading at Au Chat Noir in Paris. We were in a fight. I felt heartbroken but the night was determined to boast its magic.

“Can I tell you about the rest of my absolutely perfect, wonderful evening? Great. After we left Au Chat Noir we played the record player and danced in the metro station. Everyone clapped and cheered. Then on the metro a man was singing and playing guitar and we got everyone dancing. On the big train we played the record player again and though folks went on with their lives and pretended not to notice, they were all grinning to themselves.

‎It’s Ramadan. don’t know if you happened to look up at the apartment windows near the place we were, but as we were walking we looked up and could see the shadows of people praying simultaneously in dozens of windows. So cool. So beautiful. Prayers go until 4am- that’s why all the Arabic stores were open late. It’s incredible, all of these people sharing in this nightly celebration of breaking fast. Isn’t it? Can you imagine? When we arrived in St. Denis the restaurants in the square outside of the train station were crowded. We had one dance to Sam Cooke. The whole square was our stage. Everyone loved it. They laughed and smiled and cheered. As we skipped away, Jimmy said, “man I wish I knew how to say goodnight in Arabic”. Somehow, I knew! I announced : “leila saida!”, and I swear a hundred voiced yelled back in unison, “leila saida!”

Which literally translates into “happy night”. Perfect.”

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