April 16, 2008

The expat experience

Posted in Daily life tagged , , , , , at 9:52 pm by Lauren

I opened my eyes with some reluctance this morning (March 29), though I’d only taken half a dose of Nyquil to ease my cold last night. Allen coaxed me down from the bed with reminders that 11 am was soon approaching.


At eleven, we were just leaving the apartment, late as usual. My phone rang, and it was Isabelle, waiting at the Hotel de Ville. We could see the Hotel de Ville ahead of us; she said she’d get in line. When we arrived a few minutes later, I realized I didn’t know what she looked like, so I walked the length of the line with my black jacket and green bag. A blond called out my name. Isabelle. Allen and I cut the line to join her, and we’d only just exchanged names and nice-to-meet-you’s when another woman walked up and introduced herself as Kim.


Kim was the woman who had originally advertised on craigslist to gather other expat wives and girlfriends. Having traded my aversion to meeting Americans in France in exchange for additional company in our last three months, Allen and I had invited the group and their significant others to join us at the photography exhibit “Paris en Couleurs” and then to an English book sale.


A few months ago, Antoine and Typhaine had told us that Paris en Couleurs was worth seeing (et en plus, it was free). With the exhibit ending on Monday, we stood in line for about an hour to get in, along with the other latecomers. It was indeed worth the wait. The photography dated from 1907 with the Lumiere brothers. The vibrant colors showed the Paris of all our dreams. My descriptions wouldn’t do the photographs justice.


After the exhibit, Kim, Allen, and I jumped on the metro and visited the book sale at Saint Joseph’s church in the 8th. I’m not sure if this is “the” American church or not, but the volunteers for SOS Helpline, an English support line in Paris, had organized an English book sale here based on donations. Paperbacks were 1 euro each. How could we resist?


Between the two of us, Allen and I took home 13 books. Allen chose only three of those, but five of mine were Agatha Christies. I haven’t read Agatha Christie in years, but I remember enjoying her books and reading them in a day or two. (I remember an awkward time in middle school when I read our assigned Agatha Christie the evening we were given the book. The next day my teacher joked, “Anyone read the whole thing yet?” Somehow I gave up that I had. Height of loserdom.) In addition to the Agatha Christies (I should mention that I didn’t come close to clearing the table of available Agatha Christies), I also found a copy of The Giver and another of Flat Stanley (would you believe I don’t own that?) that were in excellent condition. Those will make their way back to the States and into my classroom library.


After paying for our purchases (12 euros – about 18 dollars – for 13 books), we parted with Kim and returned home. We snacked on crepes with Nutella (late lunch) and later shared couscous with cherry tomatoes and feta (early dinner) before I left for babysitting. Et voila!


1 Comment »

  1. I love The Giver!

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