We sit now and sip cocktails, the waiter pulls out
your chair and hands me the menu after calling you
madame. I strain now to hear your voice; softer,
gentler, feminine finding freedom. I catch you
checking your lipstick in the mirror, pulling a curl
back into place above those blushed cheekbones
still a little swollen, a normal evening in August,
in Paris, sipping gins and rums and telling tales
before swapping tables over Korean cooking
that give us a brief taste of who we used to be.

We sit here, over cocktails; the man and the madame,
looking like a couple in the reflection of a tainted
mirror and I wonder can anyone tell, as you smooth
out your skirt, that you used to be my boyfriend.


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly.


This is my final full month living in Paris and it is about looking back to see who I was and giving a moment to recognise all that has evolved and some of the breath that has returned.


    1. deuxiemepeau

      Oh everyone has their surprises that can take the breath away for a while!!!
      The photo is a local brocante on rue de Bretagne in the 3rd on the crossing of Bretagne and rue vieille du temple

      1. Jane Dougherty

        I thought I recognised it. We used to take the kids to the park on rue de Bretagne on Sundays and went home via vieille du temple.

  1. Mike Powell

    You lured me in, Damien, with your lyrical, description of the casual conversation over drinks. You caused me to pause as I mulled over the words “a brief taste of who we used to be.” My mind went off on a tangent and I imagined my 20-year old self looking at me today and I wondered if he would be happy with who I have become. Who did I used to be? My mind was going in hyperdrive in the background as I continued to read your words. I was floored as I came to the final words, the unexpected twist that none of us could have anticipated. Surely you have changed, Damien, but perhaps not as much as your friend. Or maybe, appearances notwithstanding, that change may be not be as significant as we assess it to be.

    1. deuxiemepeau

      Sorry about the flooring. It was interesting to write this and to try to convey the simplicity of two people sitting together as if all was easy and carefree and then the weight of all that changed between them. And yet it was always the same two people, at the core.
      For a while I hoped with would not be so significant, but in the end, you are right, I did not, or could not change as much as she did in order to be able to stay as we were together.

      1. Mike Powell

        You did well, Damien, in conveying that delicate balance between ease and discomfort. Gender identity is a tough topic to address. It is hard for anyone, irrespective of sexual preference, to truly understand–often acceptance is the best we can hope for. Thanks for being so willing to try to put into words your complicated inner feelings.

  2. Maribeth Batcho

    I too love the unexpectedness of this piece, Damien. Do we change, or do we finally become who we were always supposed to be?
    Only a few more weeks and you’re off….

    1. deuxiemepeau

      Thank you Maribeth. Change due to the path we are on and change also due to the person that it is we truly are. Brave to make that journey.
      Yes, the last few weeks, yesterday I sold
      washing machine and dining room table, I am literally living in a space with nothing- it’s very Japanese and peaceful but I just realize that having furniture adds heat somehow 😱😘

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