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O Fim duma Viagem

Final Day in Vienna

AUSTRIA | Tuesday, 8 December 2015 | Views [384]

Monday morning, Delaney had a class, so I was left to fend for myself in Vienna. (Technically, I could have either remained in bed or attended her class with her, so I wasn't forced to fend for myself. But neither of those sounded like much fun.) So, after a breakfast in the apartment, I hit the streets and just started wandering around.

I stopped into several bookstores and tried to make sense of the German titles. The second or third store that I stopped into included a rather comprehensive mathematics section, so I studied that for a while. There were plenty of books in English, and even a few in French, in addition to the mere expected German ones.

I also finally noticed what I'd probably been walking over the past few days. There was a street mainly full of these types of stars, and others scattered in the Underground and along other streets, including the one Delaney lived on.

Stars

Then it was time to meet up with Delaney. We got lunch and a chocolate cappuccino at a cafe, and discussed our plans for the remainder of my time here. This turned out to be seeing Nazi Towers.

We went back to the institute so Delaney could pick up a book, and at the same time ended up picking up Chris, one of Delaney's friends. Together, we all headed to a

The towers that we were going to see were built during World War II in the former hunting grounds of the king. These days, the hunting ground is a park and it's considered safer to not try and tear down the towers. Thus you end up with rather imposing towers in the middle of an otherwise peaceful park.

Nazi Tower

It's no Eiffel Tower.

Chris, Delaney, and I discussed a bit about mathematics and mathematicians. Basically, until he'd met me, Chris hadn't been familiar with the stereotype of mathematicians being socially awkward. (A week or so earlier, the programme had brought them to a museum and, in front of a painting entitled “Astronomer or Mathematician,” Delaney had cracked the joke “you know how you know he's an astronomer and not a mathematician? He's making eye contact.” Chris had not gotten it.) Glad I'd been able to help?

And then it was time to go back to the apartment and bus stop for the airport. The timing to get me to the airport 2 hours before my flight left coincided nicely with Delaney needing to leave for her afternoon class, so she walked me to the bus stop and then went back to the institute.

Through ways that confuse me slightly, I had a flight with Air France and Air Austria, which are not part of the same partnership. And that also have different restrictions on carry-on bags. So, when I started going to the gate, I was stopped and told to weigh my bag. And then I was told that it was

  1. Too heavy

  2. Too bulky.

I was told to go to the side and do… something. I’m not entirely sure what, because even if I was willing to remove items from my bag and leave them behind, it wasn’t clear where I could throw things away and not have them be seized and destroyed while I get targeted as a security threat (this is not pure paranoia. The announcements at Charles De Gaulle do say that unattended bags will be destroyed) and it wouldn’t have helped with their second claim that my bag was too bulky.

After a minute or two, I quietly got up and left, put the suitcase on as a backpack to make it look smaller (I feel like a backpack is more clearly a carry-on than a suitcase on wheels) and wandered around to a different way to get to security. This time, no one questioned me, so I got through and to my gate.

They made the announcement about the Schengen Zone being suspended at Charles de Gaulle airport at least three times, (after that I stopped thinking it was an important announcement and stopped paying attention) so I was expecting that, when I re-entered the country, they might actually look at my visa. I put so much work into that visa, I want someone official to see it.

They didn’t even look at my passport. I followed the signs to the exit, skipped over an unnecessary baggage claim, and suddenly was past the point of no return. France really sucks at closing its borders.

I still had a charged Passe Navigo, and I came out near the RER, so that was the obvious option back to my apartment. I got a seat easily, and kept it until Chatelet, at which point I transferred to the metro and rode that back home. Though I was kind of home before that.

As we walked around Vienna, or rode the Underground, Delaney kept saying “I love Vienna,” or praising it. And I didn’t understand that. Not just because Vienna didn’t seem that great to me, but because I didn’t understand her honeymoon-phase love for the city. My relationship to Paris is a lot more complicated than that. Even before, I had obviously noticed some its faults (the metro hardly runs with German precision, for example) but I was able to look with humor upon them.

Since late-March, when I knew for sure I was going, I would have been able to tell you that Paris was going to be an important city for me. The same way that Tokyo is important for me because it was the first city where I really learned how to be alone, Paris was going to be the first city where I learned to live alone. Obviously, it was going to grow and change me. And, in subtle and dramatic ways, Paris did change me. And Paris changed too.

On Saturday, I noticed that the people in Vienna were so much less tense than the people in Paris. And by Monday, all I wanted was to be back home. I had a vague fear that something else would happen and stop me from returning.

There are two kinds of places that I consider home. The first is where people who I care about live. So, for as long as my parents live their, their house is my home. And, although I might not have as much history with the other places, so too are my grandparents’ houses, and my brother and sister-in-law’s, and my sister’s apartment. When school was in session, IMSA was my home. So too is Carthage. It’s not to say that all nostalgia and feelings of comfort vanish just just because the people left, but it’s not the same if the people aren’t there.

The other kind of home is purely geographical. Prior to this point, the only city that might have had a claim to that for me was Edinburgh, simply through the repetition of visiting and revisiting from when I was almost too young to remember. But Paris now has a much, much stronger claim. It is my home, and will forever remain my home. It’s going to be harder than I ever imagined to leave it at the end of the semester.

But for now, that’s not something I need to worry about. I get to rejoin my city and know that, despite the increased police and military presence, and the recent terrorist attacks and the inevitable fear that came with it, I’m still more at home at Paris than I am anywhere else that isn’t with a close friend or family member.

I’m well past the honeymoon period. When I say I love Paris, I really mean it.

Tags: books, nazi tower, vienna

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