Taxis and books, 5th Avenue, New York

Happy Bastille Day!

It’s been nearly three weeks that I’ve been back in the States and it’s been a great time. A beautiful wedding weekend in Brooklyn; the bubbling creativity of my writing residency in Vermont; a quick trip to DC to see family.

I’m now back in New York in a large apartment in Washington Heights, overlooking the Hudson River and hanging out with wonderful friends.

Am I home?

Well, home’s a funny word, you know. Walking the streets of New York I almost feel homesick for the city – which is strange, because I’m here!

When I was surrounded by so many amazing writers in Vermont, I also felt at home. Having so many people who understand and love the same things I do was such a gift. I am still riding that wave, but also mourning. It was hard to go.

My adorable niece!

Then family! My adorable niece who grows by leaps and bounds each time I see her. My mom who gives the best hugs, my sister and brother-in-law who are such fun.

Really, I look for community wherever I go. I guess the people in each place – they are my home.

As for where I actually live, though – yes! That is also home and how happy I am to say that it’s Paris.

I have a post over on the wonderful blog Pret a Voyager about my tiny pocket on the border of the 11th and 20th arrondissements. Here’s a taste, then head on over to read the rest if you like what you see. Anne has been featuring a tour of Paris by each arrondissement, so you might want to check out the whole series!
* * *

 “Borderlands (A Tiny Pocket of the Twentieth)”

It seems fitting where I ended up in Paris. People become passionate about their postcode, as each arrondissement has its own personality. Without falling into the trap of postal prejudice, certain quartiers do draw different demographics.

I’m most definitely a girl of the Rive Droite, and of the East. I started in the nineteenth – which will always hold a special place in my heart – but for the past three years I’ve lived right on a border. My mail bears an address of the 11th. I literally walk across the street, though, and I’m in the 20th.

Street art, 20eme

Straddling these two neighborhoods seems almost symbolic, as I’m so accustomed to having my feet on both sides: I’m torn between France and the US. I’m a New Yorker who grew up in the South. Living in between, claiming both – these feelings are my familiar.

Of course, the 11th and the 20th are hardly opposites – nothing that dramatic. Both are far from the tourist crowds, local haunts are many. These two neighborhoods slip one into the next.

The 20th is the scruffier cousin to the 11th, more populaire, more mixed. Cheaper rents mean it’s home to many immigrant populations, as well as anyone on tighter budgets. No wonder that many artists find their ateliers here, too.

This starts the spiral of gentrification, though. Because where the artists go becomes cool, non? The twentieth holds an inherent tension, then – between a tougher edge and hip trends. I’d say it’s still a mostly positive tension, an energy that animates, but it’s always something to keep an eye on.

Still, I can’t speak for large swaths of the 20th. Most days I stay faithful to my tiny borderland – I don’t have to venture far to find interesting things.

Keep reading over on Pret a Voyager….


10 Responses to “Borderlands/Home”

  1. 1 Oneika the Traveller July 14, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Beautifully written, as usual! It’s funny, I’m going “home” to Toronto in two days, and I haven’t been in over a year, but the place I lived for 23 years of my life is not really “home” anymore… And I don’t know where is, really! Anyway, your guest post is making me yearn for Paris.

    Much love!


    • 2 paris (im)perfect July 17, 2011 at 3:45 am

      Yes. Home becomes a tricky one when we have lived in different places, I think. Have a great time in Toronto and good luck negotiating these issues of home while you’re there! As for yearning for Paris…well, you *are* coming soon, aren’t you? 🙂


  2. 3 Paris Karin (an alien parisienne) July 17, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    It’s cliché, but true that home is where the heart is. Just like my heart can expand to include more people, my homes are definitely in more than one place. Thank you for bringing that up in this post. I really like your neighborhood, Sion, and I can see how it is that you feel at home there!

    Safe travels back to your Paris home! I’m going to go over to Prêt à Voyager to finish up the post now.

    See you soon!


  3. 5 lupinsupins July 17, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Merci for a great post, Sion! I love old churches, but the art-deco Saint-Jean Bosco looks amazing! After reading yours d’abord, of course I had to look up ensuite all the others she has collected so far, which also led me to some of her other posts, then to her (Un)Glamorous Paris series [similar title concept to your blog, I see/:-) As I was passing thru those, I clicked onto the Youtube vid linked in her chapter on les toilettes, expecting from its “cover” to find a bureaucratic tour of the latest “self-service/self-cleaning” cabines. But it was, instead, a very funny, but very ewww publicité for Le Parisien! Which, of course, irresistibly opened a treasure trove of others, even funnier, by which time I’d been blog-reading & youtube-watching jusqu’à l’aube! Enfin, grace à tout ces blogs et photos, I was so nostalgic for Paris that it was a good antidote to read Anne’s chapters on how nearly impossible all the paperwork is to live, lodge & work in our cher Paris!


    • 6 paris (im)perfect July 18, 2011 at 4:11 pm

      Wow! Yes, very easy to see how you ended up surfing the ‘net until dawn. There is so much material out there. I’m glad you found so many cool things. Glad I could introduce you to one; I was thrilled to be part of Pret a Voyager’s “Tour de Paris.” I really like Anne’s blog. Unglamorous Paris is right up my alley indeed.


  4. 7 lupinsupins July 17, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    P.s. – Ta nièce est vraiment adorable! Tellement mignonne!


  5. 9 European Chic July 18, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Having lived in many different countries myself I know what your are talking about. Someone once said ‘Home is were I unpack my suitcase’. Discuss, please!

    Greetings from Paris!


    • 10 paris (im)perfect July 18, 2011 at 4:13 pm

      Thanks for stopping by. Well, if home is something we carry inside us, then I guess the quote would apply. I do think “home” for me does conjure more than simply where I happen to be (or where I unpack a suitcase), but some sort of affinity or connection or meaning beyond just locale, too. Unpacking is certainly a good start, though!


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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