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O Fim duma Viagem

A Saturday not as lazy as I would have liked

FRANCE | Tuesday, 1 September 2015 | Views [162]

Saturday we had nothing to do until 17:00, when we were meeting at a cinema to watch Dheepan. Which gave us most of a day to ourselves.

I woke up around 10, looked up a couple of destinations, and set off for Shakespeare and Company. It was one of the famous literary destinations that I'd managed to miss the last time I was in Paris. It's also a pretty large English language bookstore, so overall seemed like a good destination to know. I'd passed nearby several times while I was looking at apartments, but had yet to go in.

It was a nice walk, not too far (though after a few days of racing from apartment to office to apartment, I was content simply with not having any time crunch) and largely along the Seine. Shakespeare and Company was nice enough, though nothing that I found particularly special. Just an English language bookstore full of English speakers which, in a previous incarnation, had been been able to count Hemingway and Gertrude Stein among its visitors.

After that, I didn't have much else to do, but I'd made it to the left bank, so I figured I should explore further, maybe look for other things, like lunch or more books. I found both with relative ease.

Lunch was a cheese quiche enjoyed in a nearby park. (I hadn't gotten any silverware to go with that, and I was feeling kind of self-conscious about eating quiche with my bare hands. But later that day I saw a French woman doing the same, which made me feel better about myself.)

I saw (and stopped in) several bookstores, but two caught my particular attention. "Les Editeurs Reunis" was the first. As a store name, it's pretty banal. Doesn't even sound that much like a bookstore. Certainly doesn't sound like a Russian bookstore. So it wasn't until I was inside and was faced with shelf upon shelf of Cyrillic titles that I realised it was. By that point, the clerk had already glared at me for walking in, so I felt I needed to justify my presence by taking my time with the books. Several looked interesting, but none had prices, and I left without buying anything.

The other bookstore was Librairie Eyrolles. This one sprawled across an entire block, with separate entrances and several connecting basements. This was in the minority of bookstores that I'd seen in Paris that looked well and diversely stocked. (The majority look like the booksellers got their start when they were sorting through their grandmother's attic and realized that maybe their family was in the minority of people who didn't want any of her books.) It got my attention through several books in the window displays- Math Exercises to Relax and it's potential companion, Physics Exercises to Relax. I get the math, but I was really curious what relaxing physics exercises would be like. Unfortunately, I forgot about them immediately upon entering the store, and didn't remember until I'd left. And by then I was ready to go back to the hotel. (I should go back there and find out.)

I got back to the hotel (and WiFi)  around 15:30 and saw an e-mail from Erin asking me to go visit two other studios. Before the movie started. I'd been gone all day, so my first instinct was to wonder how long ago she'd sent it. Only 15 minutes. So I responded, and after a little bit of back and forth she told me to meet me at a metro in the 15th arrondissement in 45 minutes. Google maps told me two things- that it was 45 minutes away by metro, and that I'd already marked that spot as being important.

I raced out, along the way deciding that Samuel Beckett had probably lived nearby at one point in his life. Otherwise, I could think of no reason why I would have marked a random residence that I had no memory of. Once I arrived at the metro stop, I met up with Maria Jose and, a little later, Megan.

The situation turned out to be that neither Megan nor I had housing. (Neither did Maria Jose, but she was staying with a family friend and had another housing meeting set up, so Megan and I, who were both being kicked out Les Citadines Sunday at noon, had priority over her.) Everyone had marked all the same preferences, so Erin was showing us two more lodgings. One of them other people had seen (but we hadn't.) The other no one had seen. We'd see them both and, if there wasn't a distinct preference, we'd pick at random.

With that introduction, we went up to the seventh floor. There was an extremely slow elevator, which the others used and I ignored. And we walked into a room that was a quintessential Paris apartment. There were skylights and a window which provided plenty of natural light, plus the window had a view to the arrondissement city hall. The main room was probably two, maybe three times as large as the bed, and it was attached to a small kitchen and an even smaller bathroom.

It was a tiny apartment up seven flights of stairs in an arrondissement which was, walking, an hour from the university and 90 minutes from the Brown in Paris office. And, for reasons I couldn't explain, I really wanted it.

We went from there to the movie, and then to apertifs. The movie was pretty good,  and, since the main characters were Sri Lankan and the majority of the important dialogue took place between them in their native language and was subtitled into French, it wasn't too difficult to understand. It got slightly odd (and violent) near the end, and the last scene almost seemed happy, which is definitely not a thing that's supposed to happen in French movies. So maybe it was more difficult to understand than I assumed.

If, your senior year of high school, you hung out with a lot of people who had been accepted to their universities early decision, you would know exactly how I felt duirng drinks after the movies. Everyone else knew where they were living, and I still hadn't seen my last apartment. That would take place 10:30 tomorrow morning. Exactly one and a half hours before I needed to move out of the hotel.

What's life without a little adventure?

Tags: apartments, books, film

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