Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Artist's Phase

Ok, so I live in a closet in Paris. Within 9 square meters of space I have my bed, a kitchenette w/ mini fridge and microwave, a TV, a fireplace, and a shower. And did I mention that I live on the 6th floor of my apartment building with no elevator (which means 7th floor in US terms because the French count the 1st floor as the zero level)? Which means that I had to haul all three of my ridiculously large suitcases (two of which I am positive are over 50 lbs. each) up the stairs by myself. It turns out that my landlady had foot surgery (she reminded me twice that it was to remove her bunions, though this is not something I would be overly eager to brag about myself. . .) and couldn’t help me at all. Luckily I had mentally prepared myself for this day so despite the fact that my muscles were crying out in pain I just kept going until it was finished. Upon seeing the miniscule size of my “chambre de bonne”—though there is nothing bonne about this if you ask me—I wanted to cry and go right back to my double bed in Aix. But knowing that this wasn’t a possibility I slowing began unpacking to try to at least make my closet my own.

After a few hours, I realized that it’s pretty hard to complain about living in a closet when that closet happens to be located in Paris. After I’d had time to settle in a little bit and unpack I took a walk around my neighborhood which is called Montmartre. I didn’t take a map; just myself and my camera. Today I was totally content to look like a tourist. I walked all over the neighborhood and found a cute little park where nannies watched children play. I walked through the Cimitière de Montmartre and looked for the tomb of Emile Zola. I saw the Moulin de la Galette and thought about how many famous artists had painted this windmill.

Paris je t’aime déjà. Paris I love you already. So during my first weekend here my friend Wan Ying from U of M came to stay with me so we got to do all of the fun touristy things for her that I had mostly already done but it was still fun to see all of the great sights. At night we were walking around Notre Dame and we saw a big crowd of about 40 people. We wandered over to see what was going on and there was a French man speaking to the crowd. He said he was going to put on a play and proceeded to pick random tourists out of the crowd. When he was finished he had assembled a team comprised of an Irish man, a Swedish man, a Chinese woman and an Italian man. So here’s the scene: the Italian man was directing a scene in which the Swedish man was romancing the Chinese woman and then the Irish man gets jealous and enters into a battle with the Swedish man. The Irish man then wins the Chinese woman’s heart and by the end of the play the French man had somehow gotten these 4 random tourists to battle each other, profess their love for one another (including making some very sexual gestures. . .) and he even got the Chinese woman to jump into the arms of the Irish man and pretend to kiss him passionately. It was the best street performance I had ever seen in my life!

I have no idea how this French man did it but he managed to make a crowd of tourists from all over the world who spoke all different languages laugh about the same play! It sounds corny but it’s moments like this that remind me of how cool it is when people who have absolutely nothing in common can realize how much alike we really all are. After the street play Wan Ying and I kept walking and we found an impromptu dance party on the banks of the Seine. A band had set up right by the riverside and all around them there was a crowd of 50 or so people just dancing. I just kept thinking, “Only in Paris.” And that I am the luckiest girl in the world to be living in this incredible city where people are so in love with life!

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