évreux. the place where you once were happiest. note the past tense. were. you said your goodbye in july 2011. you had your closure. you moved on. you fell in love with mali. you didn’t expect to be back so soon. but since you are unexpectedly back, why not celebrate a little bit?
after all, friends are the best coping mechanisms.
cooking, that helps as well.
it’s no coincidence you planned your departure from mali so that in the beginning you wouldn’t have a moment alone. you wanted to be near open arms at all times. because it’s the only thing that keeps you from breaking apart.
the post party breakfasts haven’t changed a bit.
the following night, there’s another gathering – this time it’s a friend’s birthday.
physically, nothing in evreux different. there is good food everywhere. the clouds are gray and heavy as usual. the cathedral is still under renovation. the trains still arrive at the same times as they did before. the streets have the same cherry blossom trees. the bakery is still there.
but that’s it. the phyical structures of evreux haven’t changed a bit.
people-wise, you are still living in july 2011. and you, in a matter of a few days, quickly catch up to april 2012.
people have moved away. people have moved in together. people have broken legs. people have quit their jobs. people have found new jobs. people are now dating new people. people have given birth. people are no longer climbing. people are now baking bread in a different town. people have retired. people’s lives have changed.
regardless of all the changes around you, your individual friendships with everybody hasn’t changed too much.
you still joke and laugh about the same things that you did before. you still cook together. you still make travel plans together.
as much as you love évreux, it is not the place for you right now.
visits, yes, but there is absolutely no permanent future for you here.
which is why, after all the initial reunions in evreux, you spend your time in front of your laptop on the hunt for an apartment in paris.
because it is from paris that you are going to find out what you’re doing next.
note the word from. you are not necessarily searching for a job in paris. you are looking everywhere. france. europe. the united states. and of course, the one you want most, west africa.
but before you can do that, first you need an apartment.
and it doesn’t take you long. ten days later, this is what you wake up to.
you don’t even have to leave your bed. you just push the curtains aside in your 16th floor apartment, and all of paris is yours to wake up to.
regardless if you have such an easy way to view the sunrise, just like you’ve said before, if you are late and miss a sunrise, then too bad. you just have to wait for the next day.
your apartment faces west too. so you have two shows everyday to catch.
this is what you stare at while figuring out your life.
you also stare at the television. but only for one night, and one night only. otherwise it remains off because you don’t care too much for tv.
but why was that one night an exception?
because it was the night that france elected their new president.
at eight pm, you and your new roommate hold your breath as it’s revealed that françois hollande has won.
paris goes wild. you know – from the 16th floor you can hear all the cheering.
for a night this special, you can’t remain in front of the tv.
so you head to bastille where the celebrations are taking place.
but you don’t stay long.
as nice as the live atmosphere is, it is dangerous. you can’t breathe. you’re being pushed. you’re being crushed. there are just too many people.
so after a quick agreement from your roommate, you both head back to the television in the 16th floor.
you prefer your little corner of paris, in any case.
don’t be deceived by the lack of people – it’s just as festive and celebratory, but in a different way.
as you wait for the elevator in your apartment, you can’t help but giggle at who you find in the trash can.
it’s just slightly ironic, and maybe hypocritical, that you love where you live.
because you usually hate tall buildings because of how they ruin a landscape and block the sunrises and sunsets for those at ground level.
now that you’re actually in one, you can’t deny it, it is a treat to be this high up. you can’t help but feel a bit spoiled.
the more time you spend staring at the sky, the more you realize what your purpose of the trip is.
aside from seeing friends, it’s about you recreating stability.
even if its temporary – you needed a place to call your own.
no friends’ couches or hotel rooms, you wanted your very own place.
not your parents either. later, maybe. but right away? not an option.
you just needed to recreate the idea of home. to prove that indeed, it doesn’t matter what happens or where you are, it is you who ultimately makes and decides on a place to be home.
you wanted to confirm that even though you lost a home, you are capable of building a new one right away.
and that is exactly how you feel here in your 16th floor apartment.
at home. at ease.
note, it was far from your intention to make a permanent home in paris. it was only temporary home you were craving. because there are still people in texas you need to see.
in your new temporary home, you’ve been working at regaining your rhythm.
easy enough: you’re doing things that you did before. simple things, such as staring at the sky.
or going to the library and renting dvds. which so happens to be about malian women.
cooking. a “whatever is left in the fridge” pizza is made. that would be carrots, pizza dough, egg, camembert cheese, onion.
let’s not forget the obvious one: photography.
your best decision so far was to buy a backpack.
first, mali killed your favorite backpack. the dust destroyed the zipper. which only made it easier to leave it in west africa since airplane luggage restrictions kept you from bringing it back to europe.
second, you realized you will not carry your camera without a proper bag. it’s a burden if you don’t have a proper way of protecting it while out and about.
that explains all these sky photos – the camera has rarely left the apartment. except for that one election night, of course.
but now, you have a new backpack.
it holds all the paris essentials: camera, umbrella, water bottle, and
sweater. the last three are crucial for any outing in paris.
when a friend from normandy comes into town, you, your new bag, the sicilian, and your camera all enjoy the sun together.
your camera is happy to finally get some fresh air and leave the apartment.
so are you. your shoes come off at buttes chaumont. how lucky you are, to be able to nap on grass once again.
of course you’d do anything to trade it for a carpet of red dust.
these pangs for mali
– they come randomly into your thoughts, always when you least expect
them. they make your heart hurt, they force you to take a deep breath,
they coerce you to quickly find something positive to think about to
push those pangs away.
and what is a park without a picnic? not fun.
that’s why a homemade chocolate cake was made, and why cantaloupe was cut up. to ensure that the day would be a good one. because picnics have a way of making things perfect.
then one friend takes a train back home. of course you accompany her to the train station.
with the remaining friend, you two aren’t finished with being outdoors yet. so out comes the paris mapbook to look for the nearest spot of green. it happens to be park monceau.
here, you both wash your hands. because dish soap just so happens to also be in your backpack.
then you leave since as much as you like being social, you also need your alone time as well. and she needed some boy time.
so it all worked out perfectly.
once you arrive back at your place, you realize you actually aren’t alone. it’s you and the sunset for this evening together.
oh, paris sunsets.
and while you’re getting back to your old rhythm, you’re also running into new rhythms.
ones that make your heart beat nervously.
ones that make the days pass quickly.
ones that allow you to meet new friends.
ones that allow you to stay connected to old friends.
ones that let you discover new areas of paris.
ones that let you continue to do what you love.
ones that you will soon share here.
the news will come. but for now, enjoy this sunset.
its not the last, promise.
you’ve got fifty-two days left in france.
which, as you’re discovering, is the perfect amount of time for things to happen.