toit

| roof (masculine noun) | /twa/

For the past week I’ve been renting an apartment in Paris’ 7th arrondissement, just steps away from the Musée d’Orsay. I’m on the seventh floor, just beneath the roof, so I’ve befriended the local pigeons who sit outside my window and purr. I’m mostly nocturnal, spending my days languishing in the heat, surviving on black coffee and smoked salmon, and venturing out at night to roam the city and visit friends.

Paris always inspires warring emotions. Paris: mystical metropolis. Paris: infernal city of goodbyes. Paris: the city that leaves you gaping in awe, that leaves you empty and disillusioned, that makes you cry out in elation or fury. For me, this city is a microcosm of life’s most painful emotions.

And today, Paris left me wounded. After a terrible evening spent in the company of a sadist, I sat sobbing in the backseat of an Uber outside of Paris. The young Yugoslavian driver regarded me in the rearview mirror, offered me bottled water, asked if I was okay. Do you want to talk about it? he asked.

He became my newfound therapist, listening as I summarized the events of my horrific evening. He made me laugh. He told me jokes and rerouted us so that I’d end up at my friend’s house in the 10th arrondissement. He told me that this was life. Was I done crying? C’mon, Gabriella, that’s enough now. I won’t say he restored my faith in humanity, because frankly, I never lost it. I lost my faith in Scorpios.

In brief, you can never separate your experiences from the places where they took place, and that’s why Paris has always left me confused. To quote Dickens, it’s been the best of times, it’s been the worst of times.

Tonight I’ll fall asleep long after the lights of the Eiffel Tower have dimmed, and I’ll sigh for what I’ve lost to this city.

About Gabriella

I'm a twenty-something insomniac with a caffeine addiction and chronic wanderlust. I recently graduated with my M.A. in French, and I've spent the past two years living and working as an English teacher in France. I now work as an English professor at a university in Lille, where my students are learning to never omit the Oxford comma.
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