I am completely lost.
Roads decide to start and end whenever and wherever, I feel like I have to retrace where I have come from multiple times and I swear that roads disappear. Horns are honking because people have places to be and no one seems to be following the rules of the road, including pedestrians. Blocks are filled with seats and chairs for having a coffee by the street and people watch. At two in the morning, people are yelling from one end of the block to the other. Looking out my window, there’s a city out there that is lit up and not some dark, corn field area where you cannot see more than where the light from your house reaches. I love this city and have loved it ever since I can remember.
I have always had my eyes on Paris. When I was little, I would watch movies in French and my mom would turn it to Spanish to be positive I was learning her native tongue. I loved Madeleine, a show about an orphan in an orphanage in Paris and her adventures through the city. My mom wrote me a letter she gave me at the airport (I was not allowed to open it until she was out of sight) saying that it seemed like yesterday I was glued to the television watching Madeleine run through the streets of Paris, getting in and out of trouble and growing up… now it was my turn.
How do I explain my emotions when I entered the train station? How do I explain the taxi ride from the station to my apartment? I wanted to cry. Just tears of joy. Because I was reminded, through every hell I have faced in my life something in this world decided that I was allowed to come live in the city of my dreams.
No, I have not seen the Eiffel Tower yet, something that everyone back home seems to bombard me about. I have not had the time. See, I am both a tourist and a resident. So this is the first week (with no phone or wifi in my apartment) I have had to deal with la petite fille, teach myself how to ride the transportation system and figure out my way within the 18th arrondissement (section). Within my first week… That’s a lot to handle for someone who has never really had to deal with the city life (extent would be the city suburb).
My first day of work was Monday August 25th, 2014. I had time to go to the Spanish consulate to deal with paperwork. I had to take the bus and when I got off, I went the opposite direction from where I was supposed to head. You can imagine the scene when I took out my little tourist map of Paris and started asking directions. I finally found it. After dealing with the governmental craziness and anger (long story short: they told me the consulate of Chicago should have done stuff when Chicago told me just arrive to Paris. Went in the next day and another person gave me paperwork to fill out… Easy), I got back to the bus with an hour and a half to spare before having to arrive for work. I decided to get off at my stop and head back to my apartment when (gasp!), I swore the street to my apartment had disappeared. I stopped at a coffee shop and asked the waiter, who yelled out “anyone know where Rue _______ is?!” All of the sudden, people were yelling directions. After figuring it out, I headed back to my place and just fell on the bed. Soon, I found my way to la petite fille’s place and started taking care of her. The first day, we did not do anything fun. It was raining outside and we decided to take a short walk, which was the extent of our day.
After I was done, I needed to do some grocery shopping. I found some tortilla de patata, olives and bread (quite Spanish… I may miss my mothers cooking). I headed back to the wine section and my heart started racing. Cool Veronica I thought, just act like you do this everyday. I grabbed a red wine, Côtes de Bourg, and placed it in my cart. My stomach was in a knot by the time I had to pay, and as the person working scanned it, I was relieved. I did not have to show any form of identification. I walked out the doors and thought wow… I just bought wine. Four blocks away I realized I had forgotten the most important thing… A bottle opener. There I was, having been so excited in having bought wine and no way in opening it. All the shops were closing down, so by the time I reached my apartment I had convinced myself I was going to use a knife. It was a special occasion! I was in Paris! With my own apartment! I walked into my apartment and looked, just in case my host parents would’ve thought a bottle opener would be necessary.
I was lucky
There it was, with my forks and knives. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world as it felt like gold in my hands. I opened the bottle and poured some in a glass and tasted it. It was not the best. It was not the worst either. It was good enough for me to open my windows and eat my dinner, staring out at the night sky thinking, this is where I am meant to be.