So despite the fact that I’ve spent the entirety of the last few days watching Girls, True Blood, The Newsroom, organizing my computer, and kind of doing work, I feel like I need to do something for real. Let’s write. I feel like all of my posts are so maudlin, which doesn’t reflect the reality of my life here.
I quite like Paris. Love would a strong word reserved for occasions when my BAC is over what a salty cop would waive. But I quite like it.
Nothing titillating has happened in the last few weeks, and I quite like that as well. My life has become pretty tranquil, though my classes forever stress me, in large part because I’m too lazy to actually do my work until the absolute last instant. However, there have still been some absolutely lovely moments lately, and I’d like to recount one.
To begin, the absolute best moment ever happened on the metro the other day, let me paint the scene:
I’m three stops from Place d’Italie on Ligne 6 bound for Sully Morland, the stop nearest my Duke classes. It’s been a typical hustle and bustle kind of morning. I woke up at 11:45am for my 12:45pm class that takes 28 minutes to get to. Thinking this would give me plenty of time to get ready, as I always do, incorrectly, I leisurely proceed through my morning routines and find clothes only to realize that it is now 12:27, exactly when I need to be leaving. But I am not currently leaving. Yet I must be leaving. So I skip breakfast, forget my gloves, and dash down the stairs. And yes, this is literally how it always is. Always. I know I know, I bring it on myself, but ehhh I just love staying up late and I neeed sleep.
So I know what you’re thinking, so where’d the metro story go to? My response? Oh yeah, that.
So I dash down the stairs into another blustery November day: gray, overcast, and cold in that penetrating moist sort of way. Aka terrible. In that I trudge a few metres down Rue Boulard, turn a sharp right onto Rue Ernest Cresson where I stumble through the mass of tightly packed cars and pass our building’s homeless man reading today’s paper in the neighborhood’s coin laundromat. I stare at the Woody on the bench in front of the iPhone case store, creeped out as always, only to avert my gaze and see Ile Maurice, which only conjures up more horrors as I think of the boudin, bony fish, and awful cocktail that I lost 17 euros on in September. Then with a tight left turn I’m on Rue General Leclerc. Fully realizing how late I am, I walk briskly, occasionally breaking into a swift jog – the only running I’ve done in 5 months. I pass five homeless people: two might be asleep and that one is definitely drunk. And suddenly the Monoprix is upon me, along with the unceasing crowd spilling out from Rue Daguerre. I slow down, ducking and weaving between the cold strangers who have become my morning compatriots. With all of this behind me, I descend into the tunnels.
There’s always someone fumbling with their ticket at the turn-style closest to the Rue Daguerre entrance so with a huff I rush past them, whip out my wallet, slide my fingers into the little crease between my driver’s license and the leather and pluck out my Navigo pass. A nonchalant drop and the light green arrows glow. Paris’ metro is mine – so long as I stay within zones 1-2 during the designated hours. I race down the stairs, round the corner – hitting a maternal woman 23% of the time, a forgotten yuppie 16% of the time, and a hot guy never, only to arrive on the platform of ligne 4. Which I don’t need. So I keep walking down the quai, go down two flights of stairs and after all that I’m at last bound for school. Oh wait, no I’m not…
For once I board the godforsaken ligne 6 I have 4 stops until Place d’Italie. I memorized these stops in a forlorn attempt to understand Paris’ metro system better. Unfortunately knowing Denfert Rochereau- Saint Jacques – Glaciere – Corvisart – Place d’Italie has not ever come in handy. After approximately 4 1/2 minutes on ligne 6 I bound out of the doors before the train stops (love doing that) and stagger step onto the platform. Through more tunnels I go, walking with typical oh-shit-why-am-I-always-late pace: 19% chance the tunnels smell of pee today, 3% chance someone has taken a poo. I arrive on the platform for ligne 7 and after 2-3 minutes (normally, though there are those glorious, day-making times when the train arrives as I do) I’m finally school bound. And it only took 771 words.
Great right? Now the story,
So after all that I am three stops into my four stop ride to Sully Morland (Place d’Italie – Les Gobelins – Censier Daubentons – Jussieu – Sully Morland, I got this girl), leaning on one of the poles in the center of the car. An elderly couple is next to me, not terribly old, but definitely of retirement age like that bus driver you had in fourth grade that shouldn’t still be operating large machinery, but you were like “well she still seems spry so I won’t alert the PTA.” Yeah, you were cool like that.
So her, and her husband, were casually talking next to me. She wore a casual off-white pants suit, little pearl earrings and a darling bracelet of emerald-colored stones. Her husband – or lover ? – was dressed like all old Frenchmen: light brown tweed suit [with elbow pads – safety first], brown loafers, antique spectacles, and a lack of height. Ok so maybe that last part isn’t a piece of clothing… but it is nonetheless ubiquitous here.
Suddenly, we arrive at Jussieu. The doors open and a rather disheveled man walks on with what looks like a small grocery cart. Then, with the same look the dinosaurs must have had when they saw the meteor seconds away from impact [yes, exactly the same look], the woman took a step back. “Non, non, non, non! Monsieur, non! Nous ne voulons pas ca.” [No, no, no, no! Sir, no! We don’t want that]. Evidently used to this response, he replied with something to the effect of, “But beauty is for everyone Madame.”
Meanwhile, I’m dying. I’m laughing so hard that a few chortles escape despite my best efforts to suppress them. Her response is exactly how I feel every time I see one of them board a subway car, and I’m loving that she’s saying it out loud.
The doors snap shut, he reaches down to his cart, and he does it. Nothing more can be done.
He flips the boombox on and starts singing an awful rendition of some awful song from that most awful of decades, the 1980s. The woman and man go the opposite end of the car, and I unfortunately have to leave this lovely scene as soon as we reach Sully Morland.
What a 28 minutes.