Sunday, November 8, 2015

je préfére

I wonder, sometimes, if and how we're predisposed to preferences.
I love the hustle and bustle of New York City, but that's probably because it's the city I first knew, and I knew it as the city; not to mention that the commotion reminds me of my childhood home, what with the nature of my parents' careers and social lives. I love the melodic elegance of the French language, but so does my Colombian grandmother, as she's repeatedly told me; and much of the whole wide world has a reverence for Paris, however imagined or misguided. But I didn't expect to love the cultural landscape of Los Angeles.
En fait, I'd hardly known one existed... and I'd be grateful if you could please excuse such a truth. This is a place to become. There's freedom in the space, in the undefinedness, in the beautiful excess of palms and bougainvillea across miles of unruly concrete.
Then again, this is also a place to drown, overlooked and forgotten, in the oppressive sunshine that blurs months into empty "nice days".
Do I love L.A.? Not quite, though I do really like it. I'd like to stay, too, for the right reasons. And leave when a move is due.
Recently, as I was commuting with TED Radio Hour on Identities, it occurred to me that after "what do you do?" and "what are you?" (a careless and annoying way to inquire about racial/ethnic background), the most common question exchanged when meeting new people is "where are you from?" So often I refer to myself as a "New Yorker in L.A. by way of Paris". A true response that reveals so little.
To be fair, declarations of identity tend to be oversimplified that way. And I'm only just beginning to understand the nitty gritty of myself. Thus these thoughts with these photos.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

être dans son assiette

The weekend before last, I went home to New York. It was my first "just because" visit, a getaway simply planned in order to fully enjoy family, friends, and fall. And it was delightful, truly. For the first time in a long time, I appreciated everything about my hometown. I also got along with my parents better than I ever have before, which I can only account to a culmination of maturity and therapy. Le sigh.
And this is all relevant because visiting Paris was not dissimilar. I saw the city with new eyes and found myself deeply moved by the company of those who'd supported, mentored, and cared for me there. In one of the rare afternoons I spent alone, I retraced familiar steps with a heightened consciousness, attempting to experience my new self in the "same old". Talk about romanticizing saudade...
During those hours à moi même, I luxuriated in the specialness that is intimately knowing an imperfect place otherwise so superficially celebrated; easily recognized, but less often known. What a privilege and a mindf*** to feel at home in New York, Paris, Los Angeles.
But back to Paris for now. That evening, after the MAM, I reconvened with Lorelei and Rachael at a new-to-us cave à vins in the 12th arrondissement. We replayed our hours (and months) apart with the pleasure that is wine, beer... and a cheese plate. Quelle horreur ! Because, how defiantly American of us to have cheese as an appetizer. I'll admit it was my idea, and I ate most of it, and it was perfect.
Three hours later, I sat at table with four desserts and an empty bottle of red wine. Mes parents françaises had come into Paris to dine with me--bringing my gratitude to a dangerous high :). Patrick leaned over to ask how I was really doing in L.A. "I'm good, better," I responded nearly brought to tears by his unwavering kindness. Perhaps I'd needed the challenges since I'd last seen him in order to be so.