Last Wednesday, I arrived in Paris for my summer of reading, eating, and meandering this maze of a city. I'm here on an inherently lonely mission: reading through Wifredo Lam's archive and printed materials related to Alejo Carpentier in order to understand how the Latin American/Cuban community functioned in Paris during the 1930s. Not only Cubans, but Cubans interested in Afro-Cuban culture and publicizing said culture for an international audience. It's an amazing opportunity, to work in the archive of an artist central to Latin American history. At the same time, working and living are two very different tasks. My first week has been focused on finding a home here in Paris.
Fortunately, the stars have aligned for the summer of 2013. It seems that people from all parts of my life are passing through Paris this summer. As soon as I got off the plane, at 7am after an overnight haul across the Atlantic, a good friend of mine was waiting at the airport, ready to help me navigate two bags of luggage through the Paris metro system. Side note: as a New Yorker, growing up following colored lines across a map of the city has greatly prepared me for any transportation system. Three transfers then take the shuttle bus to obscure part of Paris? Of course. Line shut down after 11pm on a Saturday night? I've encountered half hour waits for the G train at 2am--nothing will phase me here. Except for the metro closing. The midnight dash, that I'm still getting used to.
My first few days became a practice in gathering friends. When put in situations such as these, I've always found that friends present themselves surprisingly easily. Soon, Patrick introduced me to his friend from high school; I then found a friend from my time abroad in Cuba, who was only here for a few days, but also introduced me to people here for the summer. Then the Brown in Paris students presented themselves, and a friend from high school, and a friend from elementary school....on and on. Mostly, I've been dazed and extremely thankful for people bringing noise into my life.
Then what has my alone time been? Shopping, figuring out the monthly metro pass, and working. Most of all, I'm finding time spent in my studio (a one bedroom, 8th floor spot in the 15th arrondissement) to be a haven of sorts, my own rooftop cave. For now, I'm getting into the rhythm of cooking, writing, and working, the topic of my next story. It's certainly been a beautiful adjustment period. Paris seems to have maintained every single corner in tip-top shape. Absurdely beautiful alleys. Beyond-belief perfectly planned plazas. Baguettes on baguettes. More to come, of course. More to come.