Sunday, December 13, 2015

on my way home

We hosted a dinner party this past week. We, as in my housemates and I, and it was lovely. Lovely because the intention of moving into a house with three strangers was to actively build a community and feel at home in Los Angeles. It's working.
And yet, looking back to September, when I left Paris for London for L.A. (I flew out of Heathrow), I felt the magnitude of this great truth: “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” Such beautiful melancholy as articulated by Miriam Adeney.
That night, I ventured out into the drizzle to dine with my my sister. I hadn't been happy with how we'd left things before Amsterdam so I wanted to make amends... as well as enjoy familial company as my "EuroTrip" ended. Fast forward to present day and we just had the most warm, light conversation. She landed in New York late last night, closing her own collegiate study abroad experience.
When I started recapping these twelve days I spent with family and friends in London, The Hague, Amsterdam, and Paris, I described the trip as "hard, and long, and so freaking good"; the same could be said of this past season in Los Angeles. Ironically or not, I've never been so ready for a year to end nor so eager for a new one to begin. Oh, and have I mentioned Marie is visiting in January? It's funny, I think, how people and places intersect, how we're able to better understand--or rather, appreciate--both through the lens of the other.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

je t'embrasse

It's been three years since I lived in New York, four months since I was last in Paris, and I've attempted to write this post far too many times in the past two weeks. However cliché, distance does makes the heart grow fonder. But my longing as of late is much more than that, amplified by the realization that support and strength is oftentimes most felt through the physically "being there".
Lunch with Lauren, coffee with an old professor (x two), drinks with Rithy, dinner with ma famille, breakfast with Lou–check.

I spent our last hour in Paris lying in bed with a migraine, dozing off between the soft murmurs of sparrows in the courtyard. Though unwell, I was secure, calm. And then I almost made me and Rachael miss our train back to London because I needed more photos and a pain aux raisins for the following morning. The truth is, I hadn't wanted to leave; not when (where) everything made sense again.

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, 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, 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 race/ethnicity), the most common question exchanged when meeting new people is "where are you from?" Too 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 ever have, 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 a place 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 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. After everything since I'd last seen him, I was liberated by that truth.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

bonne journée

The last time I spent a day in Paris with absolutely nothing to do but enjoy, it was 2008. Seven years later I found myself with the same great fortune, with knowledge of the city's geography and the company of best friends. 'Twas so much more than "a good day".
{A croissant from Du Pain et Des Idées & coffee from Ten Belles on the Canal}
{"Elle s'appelait Jackie" and a brasserie lunch}
{Meandering through the old neighborhood}
{Happy hour at Cafe de l'Industrie}
{Dinner at Au Passage with Rachael & Lorelei}
{Red House nightcaps}
As you may have gathered from the lack of text above, there are few words to describe this day. It was coming home to people who love you for you and receiving a hug from the strange, beautiful place you've been forever molded by and that sigh. We ate and drank well, but it was the ease with which we wandered that I savored most. (Insert all the warm, fuzzy feelings and exuberant inspiration here). And so, I cried that night in Paris' warm embrace; one of those tipsy "let it all out" kind of cries, because life is more than pretty pictures with the most perfect light (that Paname has so gracefully mastered). Man, oh man... how I'd missed that light.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

then paris, of course

The ride from Amsterdam to Paris was a long one; exceptionally unpleasant, too. The train's air conditioner stopped working halfway through; the conductor stopped the train in an attempt to restore it; he was unsuccessful, four times over; our arrival time was delayed by one hour and countless beads of sweat; fin. I hadn't thought I could be any more eager to be in Paris again. I was.
Then, once we'd settled into our 10e airbnb and freshened up, the euphoria set in. Rachael, Lorelei, and I were reunited in/with Paris.
After much deliberation, we decided to start with an apéritif at Rosa Bonheur sur Seine. For the record, I hadn't known this place existed--it was one of many bars/restaurants that had come to be after my move back to the United States. Also worth mentioning: my first visit to the original Rosa Bonheur marked my first night out as a Paris resident. Our chosen happy hour spot was, thus, perfectly "full circle". And as we discussed how wonderfully ordinary it felt to be in the City of Lights again, over a casual spread of charcuterie, cheese, and rosé, Rachael and I felt a push. A man sitting on our bench but with the group at the table behind us was making room for himself with complete disregard for our presence and entitlement. We laughed. Yes, sir, we were back.
Being there, for me, was like one deep and restorative sigh. There was an innate sense of comfort and belonging; an "of course I'm here in this city with these two". That first night, we went from Rosa Bonheur sur Seine, to Mary Celeste, to Glass, to Le Grand Pigalle. We reveled in the relief of the familiar. We clinked glasses to Paris, and to us.