There's No Place Like Home
The Parisian apartment I share with my roommate Maggie embodies my entire abroad experience. It is my most powerful genius loci in this city. Years from now, when I look back to these few months in Paris, I believe I will best remember this apartment and the many moments shared in it. Our apartment has definitely become the hangout spot amongst our friends here, and almost any night of the week you can find someone crashing on one of our couches. We joke that this place will suck you in, but I’m beginning to believe it’s the truth. Once you enter this cozy apartment with its Parisian charm, the chances of you exiting by any reasonable hour are slim, especially with winter creeping around the corner.
Our apartment has two bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, une toilette, and a salle de bains, (these are two separate rooms as the French do not wash themselves where they pee). After climbing four flights of stairs you enter our apartment through the door on the left. To your immediate left you will find la toilette, a very tight trapezium, that living up to its name only features a toilet. Straight across from the entrance is the salle de bains, a charming room with blue-tiled floors, white counters and cabinets, a sink, a bathtub, and a shower. In between la toilette and the salle de bains is Maggie’s bedroom. A large amount of space with a view into our apartment complex’s courtyard, Maggie’s room is white with splashes of orange, yellow, and red on her twin bed and decorating her desk. To the right of the entrance is our living room. A large open space with exposed wood on the ceiling and one of the walls, a fireplace, and two comfy couches, this is easily the most inviting space in the apartment, and where we spend the most time. To the right of our living room is our kitchen, and man did we luck out with our kitchen! Though it’s not the largest of kitchens, only comfortably fitting one cook at a time, we have a full sized fridge and a dishwasher—both extreme rarities in European kitchens. Fully equipped for the likes of Julia Child, Maggie and I have both experimented with cuisine, and held many small dinner parties. Finally to the left of the common room is the space Maggie and I fondly refer to as “my cave,” or “layer” as Maggie prefers. Behind the exposed wood wall is a little nook with my desk, and window-paneled French doors leading into my bedroom. It’s the perfect amount of space, with great storage, a twin bed, and a director’s chair. Like Maggie’s my bedroom is also white, though, it has splashes of charcoal and coral.
When you enter our building and begin to climb the stairs, (if you are lucky enough to not lose your footing on the winding creaky staircase), you are overcome by this distinct smell. Not necessarily a bad smell, but an old mildew smell, making it known to the masses that you have entered a relic. Like all of Paris, our apartment building is old, and everyone is fine with that, as long as the roof hasn’t caved in. Unlike in NYC, there isn’t a pressure for constant upkeep in Paris; Parisians allow their city to age and decay—what a natural concept.
When you enter our apartment it is warm, and friendly, you will always be greeted by someone, even if that someone is not Maggie or myself. Then you will quickly be encouraged to take off your shoes, make yourself at home, and get comfy on a couch. SNACKS on SNACKS on SNACKS is a motto chez nous, so we always have something to munch on in the living room. Around 4pm everyday, it’s naptime in the apartment. We settle down, physically nap, maybe watch a movie, or read a book, but the down time is always there for those who need a moment. Also, similarly to Paris, there is no rush in this apartment. We are never hurrying to get out the door, to finish an assignment, or to get ready for a night out. We enjoy every moment, listen to great music, enjoy each other’s company and spend a great deal of time lounging.
I am always reminded of how lucky Maggie and I got in our housing assignment from NYU when other students studying through NYU Paris visit. This past weekend we threw a birthday party for our friend Wilson, and our guests were graciously in awe of our space and our breathtaking view of the Eiffel Tower. Best of all, our apartment managed to take on yet another Parisian identity as my genius loci encompassing my abroad experience: a party palace that can comfortably fit more than thirty people gathered to share in the joy of being young.