Monday, August 13, 2007
Sometimes I think I could have stayed – if it were only for an electric burner. For around 45 U.S. dollars, 35 Euros or 227 French francs– I could have made it through the first year of my contract. I could have brought my produce back to my ‘petite chambre’ in my market bag. I would have stored it on the windowsill in lieu of an icebox in the winter, spring and fall.
I have always known this about the situation. Oh pity be to the languid afternoons and late night sessions over coffee on the electric burner at her place. Oh how I longed for the mini-fridge and food preparation space. Those extra few inches; the difference between here now and there now. My difference, my grave mistake, “Ce n’est pas grave” or as it would come out – “c’est pas grave” it’s not grave – oh yes it was.
The lack of ability to prepare my own meals was the sentence to damnation for my pretty little room in the 16th. I had to leave the family – I had to branch out on my own.
When she went to Tahiti, leaving me the keys to her French business major boyfriend’s home, the first thing I did was buy a whole chicken, with the skin still on, and baste it in a honey-dijon concoction. I roasted that chicken in the precious and practical counter top toaster oven at his place. It was superb.
That meal currently marks, for me, the pinnacle of my self created Parisian homey nights.
I have always been that kind of girl. Without the ability to live in it, cook in it, make coffee and do jumping jacks in it – I can’t be in it – I can’t thrive in it.
Even later, when he put me up in his friend’s place, the studio with the cold-water bath basin in the kitchen, the dishes were too tucked away for me to actually cook on them; I ate left over-take out from the Ethiopian restaurant he worked in.
She came over once. We photographed ourselves, wide eyed, posing with a baseball bat we found in the closet. I know that I will never forget what it felt like to be in my life that afternoon.
It is true that it is useless now to do the what-ifs, when-ifs of the electric burner. Obviously I didn’t try hard enough or it wasn’t meant to be…no, I didn’t try hard enough.
I knew it then – that is the part I never say out loud.
I went after my Parisian life by leaving Paris, so I could do it better. Foolish foolish girl I was at 22. With my clearly distorted notions of what I could actually accomplish, my compulsive belief that I would find my way back. No matter what.
That stupid, ill-planned plane ride home landed me here – smack dab in the middle of my life. My college degree, my ulcer, my chub, my family, my dog, my lover, my neighborhood’s sorry excuse for an open-air market.
My my my – this tirade begs the question, “would I trade it all?” Do I wish stayed? Should I have seen it out, waited it out, worked on my French, met the boy there, gotten a new dog, forged new bonds with strangers that I would now refer to as my family?
The truth is…I would…I would have, if I could have – but I couldn’t. I guess a part of me still can’t…thus is my disorder. Thus is my confliction, confusion and dissatisfaction. Thus I teeter between the now and then, letting whichever mood I’m in dictate my self esteem and personal summary of the events in my life. So YES – tonight YES – I would trade every second of this, for a little electric burner.