On Right Now

Posted on Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The weather today in Paris was so temperamental. One minute it was sunny, with blue skies and wispy clouds and the sun warming the sidewalks. The next, the sky filled with clouds and heavy drops fell almost sideways, wetting the optimistic sidewalk sitters and sending dark umbrellas up at the métro exit.

I missed most of it, though. From my desk on the fourth floor of our office building, I watched the sky change back, and forth, and back and forth again, agreeing with my coworkers who commented on the weather - CE-n'est-PAS-pos-SIB-le, they'd mutter, looking at the stormy weather gathering outside where the sun had shone just a few minutes before. Speeding through the countryside this morning on the train that takes me to work, I let my book close, shifting its bookmark into place as I closed my eyes. For someone that's been in bed before ten p.m. every night before work, I'm sure getting my fair share of train naps in.

My new routine has been a big change, since it means being out the door at 7:45 a.m. and not 9:30 as before, spending at least an hour on the train, and then coming back into Paris right as the commuter crush reaches its unbearable peak at Saint-Lazare train station. Rather than fighting the masses trying to squeeze into the ever-putrid-smelling-and-hot-and-overcrowded line 13 for the last four stops of my commute, I get out and find a bike at the end of my old street, and ride up the hill to my new neighborhood.

It may not be central, but as I turn off the rue de Rome to ride through Les Batignolles, I couldn't love my new spot more. Far from the business of more central locations, my new neighborhood hums in a completely different way. Families fill the sidewalks, well-dressed children aptly zooming along on their little scooters, dodging dogs and runners on the tiny path. As I bike across, east, towards my street, I admire the storefronts and little resto-bars, which - for better, or for worse - don't look so far removed from many storefronts I saw near my sister's place in Brooklyn in August.

It feels like my own little pocket of Paris; a quartier that bustles with its own energy, where the residents patiently line up for their end-of-day baguette, and where I, now, happily join the queue. I had very few qualms about living alone, and luckily none of them have been realized. Baguette tucked under my arm (but only if it's Friday, or if I've had a particularly rotten day, or if I happen to catch a whiff of freshly-baked loaves coming from the oven...) I climb the turning stairwell to my fourth floor studio. Even when the weather is grey outside, the little apartment always seems cheerful. Since the last time we spoke, the place has really come along.

The Ikea bed was delivered upon my return from the States, only for me to discover it was missing an essential (and non-included, of course) part. After some quick Googling I headed off to an Ikea shuttle, a free service that would drop me at Ikea's front door (well, almost) and bring me back to Paris once I was finished. Determined not to fail, I bought a mini power drill for good measure, some white curtains, and the bed slats, and climbed back into the bus. Several hours later, plus some extremely sore fingers, some very bent-out-of-shape screws, a trip to the local hardware store where I was laughed at by the employee, and a well broken-in power drill... I had a bed. I can't tell you what a difference it makes to have an actual real big-girl bed to sleep in at night.

There have been a few other hiccups along my route to Domestic Bliss As A Wonderful And Independent 25 Year Old Woman. There was the night I closed the door behind me, leaving not just one but both sets of keys inside the apartment, and the next day when I cried in the stairwell as a good friend helped me pick the lock. Also the time an hour after that when the key stopped working altogether, thanks to my failed attempts to pick it with a nail file which had altered the interior of the lock. There was the time that the shower, unbeknownst to me, sprayed more water on the opposite wall than it did on me, leaving an inch-deep pool all along the bathroom floor. The time the hot water tank leaked all over the bathroom floor and needed to be replaced. The time the smoke alarm went off (that's a lot of times, because how are you supposed to cook anything delicious without setting off the smoke alarm??).

But then, there are the other times. There's the leek and potato soup that I made on Sunday night, and have been enjoying every night since. There's the little dustpan and brush tucked away in the bathroom, that I actually use and feel accomplished when I look back over the clean(er) parquet. There's the little pot of kitchen tools, always overflowing, every single one of them used, and the apron that I tie on because I firmly believe that aprons are the BEST. Best of all, there are the mornings. I wake up, the light coming through my new curtains, and I look around this space, and I feel so happy to call it my own.

It feels like an exciting time for me, and though I feel like I say that a lot, I mean it this time. Though it's new, I really do love my job so far. It's exactly what I want to do, and my coworkers are lovely. The hours between nine and five speed by, which is a welcome change from the dragging that I've experienced at other jobs. My apartment is the best. I fall asleep at night (at an absurdly early time) feeling happy and relaxed, excited to wake up and make myself coffee and oatmeal, content to be getting to know the ins and outs of this new space.

I've got lots of things I want to work on in the upcoming year. Personal things, professional things, all sorts of things. One of them, that I feel that I can share with you here, is trying to feel content with the right now. Maybe you've noticed from reading this blog, but I often find myself pulled between nostalgia and anticipation. Feeling sad or wistful or even happy thinking about the past, or else feeling excited or nervous or anxious about the future. What about the in between? Lots of things are in motion this year, but I think that maybe by staying still and letting myself enjoy Right Now, everything might just fall into place. I'll cross my fingers, at least. xx

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