“So, what will you do there?” Wait, must I have a vocational or other sensible reason to spend six months in this arguably more-interesting-and-exquisite-by-the-day wonder of the world? Come to think of it, at this point Paris is my vocation, whereas in the past the city was my… hobby, would not be a bad description. Three weeks here, a month there. Montmartre, usually. Sometimes, I’ll add a side trip to see friends in Bordeaux, or any other French city where someone kindly suggested an apartment exchange. Or Brussels, where I have dear friends to impose on, but also have enjoyed two delightful exchanges. (Exchanges? How do you do that? Click on the link to find out more).
In New York, I work part-time at a popular décor store near Columbus Circle; I’m a “casual” employee meaning the company and I have no ties that bind, so with proper advance notice, off I go. My co-workers no longer ask, “Where to?” They verify: “Paris, again?” But last August, I confessed, sheepishly, that I’d be away for…
“Six months!? And what will you do there?” They ask.
“I’ll just live there,” I reply.
My answer rarely satisfied. That was not a valid activity. You can’t live in the Eiffel Tower, no matter how many photos, magnets and mini-models of the masterpiece you scatter around your New York apartment – in case someone who walks in the door doesn’t already know about your obsession with the city symbolized by the tower that scintillates with points of light for ten minutes every hour, every night. Even my six-months Parisienne exchangers, Camille and Lola, were a bit shocked (maybe by my shower curtain – a waterproof, oversize, dull-gray photo of Paris with the Tower off-center, and grommets at the top for the shower curtain hooks). For Camille and Lola, the obsession is New York, where they already were frequent visitors – but to work and study, not just live.
Since October 1, 2012, just living in Paris is what I’ve been doing. In the 19th, an arrondissement I had visited only a few times, by chance, in all the thirty-five years I’ve vacationed around the city. The time-span actually is longer, but for five years in the ‘90s, I was busy with a different vocation and grew apart, temporarily, from Paris. Well, then, what’s it like for this New Yorker to just live in Paris? Stay tuned.