My disturbing encounter of the day was made even more bizarre by the fact that the person who caused it was honestly trying to be nice.
Tonight is the first night R can spend in her new apartment, so after nannying I had the wine guy at Monoprix pick me out a nice bottle of Saint Emilion, threw some plastic glasses into my bag and hopped onto the metro to christen her new apartment. She’s now living in the 11ème, which is a mostly nice “bobo” area with a few sketchy bits (like any part of town, really). When I exited the metro, an older gentleman with a pipe saw me consulting my map and immediately knew I was American.
He was quite excited to practice his English on me and share stories about his trip to California several years ago. After consulting my map, he informed me that he’d lead me to where I needed to go because I was a girl, and according to him, there are “dirty people in the street.”
He got me to the corner of rue Léon Frot and rue Emile Lepeu, but would not believe me that there existed a passage Gustave Lepeu a little further up the road. Finally I managed to convince him that I’d go look for it myself, that I’d be fine and he could go on with his evening. I thanked him, and he removed his pipe from his mouth long enough to say,
“Be careful, there are a lot of Arabs around here.”
I stared at him for a minute, but he was completely serious, so I just waved and continued up the street. It was a little unnerving.
Anyway, Rachael’s apartment is kind of hilarious at the moment. I arrived at what I thought was number 7, but there was no address on the building. There were also no names on the interphone outside, and since she’d mentioned that the building was currently under construction, I assumed that had to be it. I had to call her since the interphone was set up, and she came all the way downstairs to manually unlock the heavy front door.
The second I stepped inside I started laughing. The floor was bare concrete spattered with paint. There are clear tarps, dirty pieces of carpet, electrical wires and assorted hammers and drills strewn everywhere. The lights are just lightbulbs dangling from the ceiling. She led me upstairs to her apartment, where we had to step over a toolbox to get inside.
She and her roommate Vita are apparently the first ones to move into the building, because the construction is contintuing all month. They currently have no electricity (or hot water), except for a tiny generator lighting a few lamps in the living room.
Except for the fact that they’re living in a construction site, everything is pretty perfect. Their apartment is brand new and completely furnished – complete with brand new Ikea dishes and cookware. They have tables and lamps and curtains and a futon for the living room. In fact, all they have to buy are mattresses or futons for their own rooms and they’re all set.
Their street is also very quiet and cute, with boulangers, restaurants and fromagers lining the adjacent rue Léon Frot. With the exception of racist old men wandering the street and trying to impart their bigotry on young American girls, it’s a very cute little area.
ªªª My sink is fixed – Cassie asked how it was and I had to tell her the truth. It was broken!! She ended up coming up here while I was giving P and G their baths and fixing it for me – although she did concede that it was very difficult to take apart.