Posts Tagged 'dc'

Borderlands/Home

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….

The Joys of Travel

Often, adventure lies in the journey itself.

Like a roadtrip in Mexico where we set off without destination and ended up diving from high cliffs into a turquoise sea, sleeping on a white-sand beach, and stumbling upon a haunted house (we ran away as there were haunted people inside, too).

Or in Ghana, where my guidebook’s only accommodation recommendation for a certain region was to find the “Jesus Reigns Supply Shop” and ask the owner, Michael, if we could stay at his place. (He wasn’t there, but the two workers we met kept us stuffed on sweet mangoes until Michael arrived to whisk us away on his motorbike. He and his wife’s little B&B turned out to be a nice respite).

Sometimes, though, you just want to get to where you’re going.

For my trip back to the States, this was the aim. But you know what they say about the best-laid plans.

On a good day, the drive to Charles de Gaulle Airport takes 30 minutes, though we always leave over an hour for the inevitable traffic jams. The airline had already called early in the morning to inform me that the flight had changed – I love (read hate) how they’re allowed to change any thing at will up to the last moment.

Even with the delay, it became a race to the finish. After over an hour and half stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, a mad dash off the highway to find the nearest RER train station because it was obvious I would miss the flight if I stayed stymied amongst the cars, a worried wait in the Aulnay sous Bois station as it began to rain, I made it to the airport and through all check-in and security procedures with 20 minutes to spare.

I was seated next to 15 young Russian children for the next 7 hours.

But I made it, and I remember why I come back home:

My niece, the cutest little girl in the world.

The hardest thing about being an expat is being far from family and friends. So you soak up every last second with them, say grace for the time spent.

I stayed with my sister and her husband in their new house in DC (congrats, homeowners!) and my above-noted gorgeous niece. My mom came up from North Carolina.

At the end of the weekend, I couldn’t imagine how I ever thought these few days would be enough. (No matter how long, it’s never enough).

But then another travel mishap to distract me. A tardy cab, an asshole driver, a missed bus, a long wait in the hot sun.

But now I’m in New York and it’s all okay again. My last trip here was something of a heartbreaker. I felt like an outsider to a place I had once known so intimately.

This time I’m more prepared. I accept that I am a visitor, that Paris is now home. But I’m visiting as I lived here – with an open wonder. This great city helped shape me, taught me to be who I am to the fullest.

I’m on 95th street on the West side and found it a good omen to pass this building on my block:

Sans Souci. Without Worry.

I’m adopting that motto.

Until I fly up to Vermont on Monday, that is. (Third trip’s a charm?)

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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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