Today begins like any other weekday. I rise up from a deep slumber to a tinny ringtone coming from the first Nokia device ever made–a cell phone that I am proud to claim as my own.
I stumble downstairs to have breakfast à la Française–a little French baguette soaked in black coffee and yogurt cushioned with a bed of honey on the bottom. This is all doused in cinnamon, of course. My host sister comes down to eat with me and we discuss my cinema and literature class at the Sorbonne. I’ve been having trouble appreciating this class purely because of the time-frame, the prof, and the lack of friendly students. Welcome to Paris. All of my speculation leads her to ask me the simple question of whether or not I think of movies as fully anchored in reality or not, to which I respond ‘yes’. This petite breakfast club session makes me re-evaluate cinema’s place in my life. I realize that this class I’m in is actually giving me cultural reference and connecting me to people who have good taste. That’s not so bad.
Next, I work on a cover letter for an internship and head out to Bastille to meet up with a friend for lunch. We eat at a café/bistro while sitting outside in the surprisingly scorching sun until my quiche Lorraine looks like it’s about to refry itself on my plate. It’s a relaxing French meal (read : not a lot of food consumed in an hour) and the walk home consists of a discussion about identity and the intersection between theory and practice. I come to the conclusion that in order for me to live better, I need a delicate balance between the two.
I run upstairs to change my coat because it’s sunny and hot outside while I stroll down the boulevard to get to my Geography class at l’Institut Catholique de Paris. The building itself is old, yet the kids are hip chain smokers whose parents drop mad cash for this very private, very expensive university in the heart of the city of lights. Basically, ICP is the French version of DePaul, my soon-to-be alma mater. Our airhead teacher is late per usual, and I half-listen to two student presentations–one on Colombia and one on Brazil–as I daydream about the possibilities of mixing cobalt and jade. After class, I partake in a cloppe session with some classmates and take the metro to the Latin Quarter for babysitting at 4:30.
I accidentally take the train one stop too far. The bus outside helps me backtrack, and as I walk onto the Place St. Michel from the metro, I see a small young man playing a grand old piano right in front of the gargantuan fountain. Entranced by the melodic purity of it all, I stay until he finishes the overture. I clap sincerely. It’s during the short duration of time that it takes for me to wait for the crosswalk signal to turn green that a scarf-clad French man wearing Gucci shades tells me that he also loved the piano man and that I look elegant today. Awkward. I spot a classmate of mine just behind him, and I walk over to her side and start chatting her up. Success : the creeper is out of sight.
The two of us spend a few minutes looking at clothes before I excuse myself to meet Madeleine, the seven year old girl I watch and speak English with, at her school. The kid and I mosey on over to the park across the street, which happens to be right in front of the famous Sorbonne. I meet a man on the bench next to me who speaks near-perfect English with an American accent, and I ask him why he doesn’t speak with a posh British accent like most of the other Parisians I’ve met. He tells me it’s because he’s got a musical ear. Turns out he’s in the movie industry. He gives me some useful tips on screenwriting and teaches me new French words, supporting my conviction that anti-American sentiments in France are exaggerated. After the park, we go back to the house and Madeleine’s dad, the jolly plastic surgeon, is already there. I’m free as a bird, and I take the bus home to take care of business, eat dinner, and write this blog post.
Freedom : what does it really mean ? After all, Article 4 in the French Declaration of the Rights of Man (why man ?) says :
La liberté consiste à pouvoir faire tout ce qui ne nuit pas à autrui : ainsi l’exercice des droits naturels de chaque homme n’a de bornes que celles qui assurent aux autres Membres de la Société, la jouissance de ces mêmes droits. Ces bornes ne peuvent être déterminées que par la Loi.
This passage effectively states that we all have the right to do anything that does not hurt any other person, and that your liberty cannot stop others from exercising these same rights as human beings. Right on.
I enjoy being free, so naturally I like this article. For anyone who speaks French, it’s a spectacularly written declaration. Still, reading it makes me wonder about how free we all really are. One thing leads to another, and my day has turned into a big jumble of connect-the-dots–seemingly unrelated events that I have to think about in order to find causalities.
Still, causality ≠ correlation.
If my head hadn’t been in the clouds, would I have taken the metro one stop too far earlier today ? Would I have evaded being hit on by Fonzie, spent time with my classmate, or sat on the same bench as the French man with the musical ear ?
An insect flaps its wings and a tsunami happens on the other side of the world.
My daydreams are like butterflies, and the chaos that is Paris is beautiful.