It’s been a week of moving, settling in and adjusting to Parisian culture.
My apartment is just as I remembered it, a little worn on the surface, but solid architectural bones. It’s a tiny place, about 30 square meters made up of a salon (living room) and a bedroom. My kitchen is really a kitchenette that opens into the living space. As Paris apartments go, I actually feel it’s spacious.
It took no time to move my two suitcases into the apartment. I was given a quick orientation and overview of the space, signed some forms (written in French) and then it was mine. In retrospect, I should have asked a few more questions, but sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know.
I spent the rest of move-in day cleaning and organizing. I pulled out everything in every cabinet and closet. I was convinced my organization skills would yield more closet space. I’m not sure it created more space for my belongings, but I certainly found the flaws in my lovely apartment.
Scary cracks in the walls, leaky radiators, a defunct water heater, missing lightbulbs, dead electric outlets, a dysfunctional window all greeted me. Did the person prior to me live with all of this? Oh, the joys of moving!
Fortunately, my leasing (brokerage) company has been responsive to my inquiries and concerns. While I wish some of these issues had been addressed before my entry date, the company provided a very typical French response: Ce n’est pas notre faute. Nous ne savions pas. (It’s not our fault. We did not know.) The American in me was simmering with frustration, but I sort of laughed at the French response. I felt culturally indoctrinated.
I’m learning to live in a city and in an apartment building. It’s a give and take relationship. I had forgotten the dance after many years of suburban home ownership. The beautiful wooden circular stairs with century-old wrought iron railings are, well, noisy. They creak and clump with each step and create an echo chamber should someone speak.
The street outside is more lively than I had first noticed. It’s particularly lively between the hours of midnight and 2am. I’m sort of frustrated and fascinated. So far, Sundays and Mondays are my best nights for sleep. It gets dicey as the week progresses. I did hear a ridiculous racket on Monday night and looked out the window. It was the trash truck picking up garbage. Of course, trash removal occurs at 10:30 in the evening. Of course, it does.
The process of getting settled will continue. I have done more research on mobile phones and banking in France than I care to admit. None of the solutions offered are ideal. I am figuring out how to make the best of it. What works for me today, may not work as well a few months from now – a wholly different mentality or tactic than I would take in the United States.
For all the quirks and inconveniences, I am happy with my decision to move and the great potential in the year ahead. I am slowly decompressing from work and have enjoyed some new connections in Paris. The city continues to reveal itself to me…I hope it always will.
*The title of this post is homage to David Lebovitz’s fantastic book, L’appart, where he describes the trials of making his home in Paris. I am in the middle of reading it as I write. It gives me a strange level of comfort.