Somewhere in the depths of my attic in our Italian home, there is a box full of drawings I made back in kindergarten, the ones showing my daddy and my mommy holding hands with my sister and I, and we are all flying through blank paper space with long spindly legs. And then there are the drawings that I had to make to respresent months like December: Papa Noel, January: New Year, […] April: Easter, May: Spring, June: flowers in bloom, July: warm, sun, beach…. you get the idea. Just like any normal kid, I was brought up to expect warm and heat and fun in the months of July through August. I will even go for a stretch and include September, because I feel generous today.

Now, if I were to ask a little Parisian first grader to describe the months to me, what would they put down for July?

Cold, rain, rain boots, humidity and grey skyes. Would I mark them down for misrepresenting July? No. I would give them extra points because due to theim being realistic enough to know that Parisian weather in the summer sucks. It  just sucks.

And what is worse is that I live in a neighborhood where, although during the day I can comfortable walk outside and say hi to the fruit vendor across the street, or go to the bistrot by the side of the church and know the waiter by name, the nocturnal activity (and demography) changes drastically. Two weeks ago, for example, all the power on the street went out. « that’s weird, » I thought. And as I looked outside, I saw a group of men running a drug deal right outside my room’s window. Which is on the ground floor. Apparently it’s a common thing for them to cut the power in order to  run their business.

And a couple of days ago I was awakened by the phone ringing: it was the woman that lives in the building besides our house and she wanted to tell me there was a man outside the house who has been observing the house for 30 minutes and has been attempting to climb it for the past 5. And it was only 9am.

Call me cynical, but it’s a tiring lifestyle, having to act like a paranoid android every time I leave the house. So that whole ordeal, mixed with the rain, gives me nausea. Am I starting to become disenchanted with Paris? Maybe. I mean, SF’s weather is no different during the summer, and some days can be very very cold. But you walk down the street, and the only thing you have to worry about is stepping in the way of the Bushman during one of his stunts. Not drug dealers, they leave you alone.

On the other hand, when I gain enough motivation to get on my bike and go past the walls of the twentieth and its loitering men hissing at me in Arab « Fatimah! Put your veil back on! » comme n’importe quoi, a new life appears right before my eyes. An Haussmanian Paris, with fashion forward people, ragged-looking big-boned old artist walking their mini pug. Old ladies with hands weighed down by huge heirloom rings,  antique stores overflowing with vintage crystal champagne cups, lost tourists, happy tourists, tourists asking for directions, women studying you up and down and back up, lovers kissing shamelessly whenever and wherever they can….sigh.

I cannot win the lottery fast enough so that I can finally buy that little 35 squared-meter studio in the Marais, Saint Michel or Saint-Germain des près or hell, even Bastille! I  don’t care, just don’t let my idea of Paris be buried under crime, and huge bric-a-brac building, and drug deals at 11pm, and robberies at 9am.

~ par gitane sur 21 juillet 2011.

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