Monday, October 7, about 4:00 PM
For the past two years in Paris, I’ve been trying to settle in, despite my decreasing income and frustrations learning French. My plan was to be creative, all the time… make that webseries! Learn French and act in French! Act in English! Do background work, like in L.A., when I needed extra cash! Have a cozy place to live! But it’s been a struggle. Looking back, of course I can say, “well maybe I should have looked for a job right away so I would learn French quicker, and have a little more income….” but I was really optimistic. And then after the optimism came the time in The Suburbs, when commuting for any reason was a pain, and culture shock and homesickness set in big time. I left that place and tossed everything in storage, all the furniture to be sold again over the summer for much less than I paid to furnish my cozy house…. I returned my cat to his natural habitat (California) and decided that I would join him again in 3 months time.
The financial situation continued to get worse, and when I returned from Los Angeles I could only manage to afford a tiny studio in Belleville, on the 7th floor, for about the same price you’d get a decent studio with a toilet, shower, maybe even a tub, and a kitchen in Los Angeles. I intended to buy my ticket home at the end of July so I could go back to doing background work, be with my cat, and just recover for a while in a real apartment. Or house. Well, the Prefecture messed up those plans with an appointment in September, so I had to stick around. Knowing how time-consuming the search for a place in Paris would be, and how expensive a decent place to live would be, I opted to go traveling. When I returned to Paris, I thought I had two options. The apartment I help to rent out on airbnb (in between guests) and someone who said they had a spare room I could stay in. Well, the second option fell through. Which left me a couple days here and there in option #1. One sweet friend came to my rescue, and hosted me for over a week, until another friend of his came to visit from out of town, and I had to find a place to rest my head in the next 24 hours. My dog would stay behind for the time being. The next day, another friend came to my rescue, for one night. I even got to sleep in a bed! But the next day I was back on the search for another bed. And now I find myself, for the first time ever, I believe, stuck with no place to go and no place to be. I’ve got a backpack and a bag of bananas and left over veggies. My first thought was to head to Eastside Burgers, where they have vegan (junk) food, free wifi, and a restroom. When I arrived, they were closed. Yay for Mondays. Do Parisiens fast on Mondays? I sat for a few minutes trying to figure out where I could go next. “Home” wasn’t an option. I turned the corner and found a public toilet. Yay! At least I could do that. So I wiped down the seat (come ON, people) and did so. Then I walked along the street, through a bit of a park. I sat and watched the water, and pigeons, and smelled the flowers. A homeless man slept on a bench across from me, on the other side of the fountains. I wished I could sleep.
I’d been texting and FBing for some help since yesterday, and by now at least knew where I would have a bed for the night, though I was told it would be 10pm before he arrived home from work.
I moved on after lightening my bag by two bananas. I thought perhaps I could get a haircut. It’s about time for that. My fringe is in my eyes. I knew my regular place was closed on Mondays (seriously!!!) and the one place nearby wanted over 40€…. no thanks. No haircut today. Now where? I looked up Subway. They’d be open, for sure. And have veggie options. So I walked to Subway. As luck would have it, I sat down next to an outlet. So I gained 20% on my phone while I slowly ate half of a sandwich, saving the other half for dinner, because who knows where I’d be. I felt like I should be on my way, but… to where? Then I remembered some letters I had to mail. La Poste! I mailed my letters. Now what? I walked around the block and thought of a park I’d been to. I looked on my map, and I found it. All four benches were claimed. I mean seriously claimed, by one or two people sitting smack in the middle of all of them. I sat on some stairs until one pair left. And this is where I find myself now.
My lovely host has informed me that it will now only be 7pm before I have a place to come “home” to for the night, which makes me very happy and relieved. I may eat the rest of my sandwich early, to celebrate.
Tomorrow I will go to French class, comme habitude, and then check those guests out of option #1. Although there’s an inquiry open for people to check in only hours later, it hasn’t been confirmed and I’m crossing my fingers, holding my breath and praying that they’ve found another place to stay, because my friends don’t seem to have any spare sleeping surfaces for me this week.
The rest of the month looks a bit scary to me. I have to save everything I can to afford to fly my dog, my luggage, and me (I borrowed money, for the first time ever, at least when we’re talking more than $20) back to L.A. and then have enough money to pay for November’s rent there. But when I start getting scared, I remind myself that as long as I have what I need for today, I am taken care of. We pray “give us this day our daily bread…” Not tomorrow’s, not next week’s… one day at a time. Each day has enough worry of it’s own, without adding to it the worry for tomorrow.
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (for after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
It’s something I should pay more attention to, instead of getting distracted in survival mode. It’s hard. I think we all like security, we want to know that we’ll have food and shelter when we need it. This month is becoming a real test of where my focus lays, and how much faith I have in God to provide what I need, when I need it…. no sooner, no later….
I am glad to know that there will be an end to it on October 31. That I will have a place to rest, and that this is only temporary. Because even though I’m learning how to trust God day to day, I also feel very frustrated with the time I waste just moving from one place to another, every few days, when I could be focusing on being productive or having fun. I will be learning how to be productive and have fun through it all, though. A good lesson, since when is there ever a “perfect” time to do anything? Though there’s really something to be said for having a home you love to come back to and know you can come back to for as long as you want, to lift that burden of concern from your shoulders and free you to truly focus on your creative pursuits.
I am grateful to every friend who has been able to take me in and save me from hostels, or whatever my alternatives are, and to any and all of my friends I say if you’re ever in this position, my bed, my couch, my floor, whatever I have that you’re willing to sleep on, is yours. And some of you know that already from experience.
OK! So here I go, I’m going to eat the rest of my sandwich, signifying my faith that God will provide. 🙂