Monday, October 08, 2007

Why I Moved to Paris (or, Why, I Moved to Paris!)

The other day I took a stroll past my first "real" address in Paris: 58 rue Monceau in the 8th arrondissement. This is where I lived when I first came to Paris (in 2002) to live for an extended length of time, not just a month or two. A few months earlier (while traveling down the road in a van in France, but that's a different story), I had made a list of pros and cons about whether to live in Paris. Like so many of the most important decisions in my life, the cons outweighed the pros by 2 to 1 (pollution, dog crap, all the usual suspects), but I still decided to plunge in. Call it an itch that needed to be scratched, one of those things I felt I had to do, or I would always wonder "what if...?" Probably George Bush had something to do with it too.

My "apartment" - in reality a glorified maid's quarters - was up 7 flights of dusty narrow stairs, and measured less than 200 square feet, much of which was under the eaves (and I'm hardly what you would call diminuitive in stature). The kitchen consisted of two camp-style electric burners, a sink that was big enough to wash one dish at a time, and a miniature version of a hotel fridge. The bed was a saggy futon on a fold-out couch that took about 10 minutes to fold out. There were no closets; I hung my clothes on a rack like in a department store. For most of the first month the toilet didn't work at all (don't ask). Moreover, because I'd had only one day to find an apartment, I hadn't had any time to do research on the area (a necessity in Paris, which is really a cluster of villages). Thus I found out after I moved in that my "village" was in fact comprised mainly of offices and embassies, meaning that there was little to do at night - very few cafes or restaurants, very few services.

Oh, and did I mention that the toilet didn't work for most of the first month, and I was on a 7th floor walk-up?

And yet - all that being said - I loved that little apartment, or nest, or whatever it was. If I leaned my body against the eaves and looked out the window, I could see a tiny piece of green from Parc Monceau nearby (that was a redeeming feature of the neighborhood, and I went there almost every day to sketch). I could see the beautiful - glamourous! - architecture of the late 19th century, in all its glory, laid out before me in neverending rows. And I could see the sky - the sky at night in Paris, from late spring turning to summer, when the day didn't end until after 10 pm.

All the many "cons" of living in Paris were eclipsed by the one simple "pro" - the simple wonder - of just being here, of just being alive to witness this old, beautiful, loveable, changeable, hateable, rigid, enigmatic place that people have called home for centuries. Who needs a working toilet? Or so ran my thoughts at the time...

(Part 1 of a new series - to be continued at some point)


Blogger lisa said...

I loved this posting ... looking forward to the next installment of the series!
xo, ~L

8:22 AM  

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