Here is some news to settle the fears of everyone who has been worried that I just came to Paris to become homeless and get attacked in the streets: I officially have a place to live. Not only a place to live, but the most perfect place I could have possibly found.
I have first date stomach (you all know the butterflies) I’m so relieved right now. After two and a half weeks in Paris with nowhere to live, and two weeks of moving from hotel to hotel and getting nowhere in the quest for an apartment in one of the three most expensive cities in the world, I am finally in a very good place.
Last weekend R and I first discussed the idea of continuing to look for an apartment together, but also beginning to search a little on our own, to broaden our options. I suggested this because although we had pretty similar apartment goals in mind, I was interested in looking in more and different areas of Paris and at different types of living situations. We both agreed to this amicably – which is lucky, since we’re still living together for all of September – and as we settled into our September sublet, we began a much more extensive search for housing in Paris.
On Wednesday morning I was checking Paris Craig’s List, when I happened to take a peek at the “childcare wanted” section. This was a complete fluke as I’d thought about working as an au pair, but had no idea how to find a family, and was under the impression that not many French people have heard of the San Francisco-based Craig’s List. As another fluke in a series of fortunate coincidences, an American woman living in the 2ème with her French husband and four (!!) bilingual children had just posted a promising looking ad: “Childcare in exchange for studio in Paris centre,” and I emailed her immediately.
After a few hours of emailing back and forth on Wednesday – details about their family and the studio from her, and long paragraphs about my experience with children (and pretty much everything about me) in return – we planned to meet on Friday morning. The whole deal sounded almost too good to be true, and I was trying to reserve any feelings in case something went wrong – as things have tended to do thus far in R and my apartment quest.
I met just with the mom on Friday morning, and returned on Saturday to join parents and kids for a family lunch. Both times I left wishing to be a part of the family. Friday morning, we’d chatted for a while about job details, and ended up spending more than an hour talking about anything and everything. Saturday was the first day I’d met the kids, and although the family is very very privileged, they are just nice nice people.
Not only did I feel like I clicked immediately with the family, but the job is perfect. The family is Franco-American, and they live in a three story apartment between the Louvre and l’Opéra. The mom stays at home with the kids, and the dad (an alum and former teacher at Sciences Po) apparently has a pretty good job, since they also own my studio. It’s in the same building, just upstairs from the family’s apartment. It’s technically a studio because it’s all one room, but it’s larger (or maybe just better designed) then any other I’ve looked at. It’s one long room with a full kitchen separated from the living area by a counter/bar for eating. Up a set of stairs/ladder thing is a loft for sleeping. All furniture is included. As I was told, “You’re only here for a year, of course we don’t expect you to want to buy furniture!”
Here’s my new courtyard. My job will be helping mom for a few hours each weeknight and doing some extra babysitting as needed. I’d also possibly accompany the family on a few vacations to their other house (!!) in Provence. It’s a time commitment, but after meeting the family I’d already decided to take it if it was offered. I liked the family enough that I’d willingly give up a few extra hours of Sciences Po bonding to be a part of this family instead. Plus, no rent? That’s 500 tons of stress off of my mind. And the minds of my parents. And probably grandparents too, come to think of it.
* In other news, R and I spent the day at the museum of Jewish art and history in the Marais. It was pretty interesting, but a lot of it didn’t hold the same significance for me that it did for Rachael. I was more interested following her around and learning about how expensive it is to outfit strictly kosher kitchens. One interesting thing at the museum was the amount of security. Upon entry, everyone’s bags and coats are scanned, and after passing through metal detectors, visitors are allowed entry one at a time, by men in black suits with earphones (Men in Black style). It’s too bad that that level of security is necessary – even the Louvre is much more relaxed, but with the current sentiments in France, they’d be crazy to lower security. R says temples in Los Angeles also have metal detectors and x-ray scanners – I wonder if Seattle temples have adopted similar security after the shooting this summer at the Jewish building downtown.
* On a more fun note, here’s an observation that would have fit better into the previous post. French boys are really different from U.S. boys. They wear tight pants, carry man purses and have more artistically-styled hair than most of the girls here. They borrow my lip gloss and pretend to make out with each other in the street. They’re perfectly content to go to a club as a group of guys and dance just with each other. They think nothing of ordering Cosmos or Sex on the Beaches in bars rather than typical guy beer. In the U.S. they would be beyond “Metro.” Here it’s just Euro style – because they’re also the biggest flirts R and I have ever encountered. Last night our friend Rubens took us out to St. Michel with a group of his guy friends from school. We ended up at a pub that plays only old school American/English pop music, and R and I were thrilled to meet about 15 boys who knew all the lyrics to Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman,” and were totally confident enough to sing and dance along with R and I. They were also almost (but not quite) as excited as I was to get to dance to the Spice Girls’ “If You Wanna Be My Lover.”