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.
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!
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“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.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….