Once upon a time I lived in Paris.
First in a rented room in a grand apartment on Avenue George V, just off the Champs-Élysées. I rented it from a skint Duke and Duchess (explaining why they would rent a room to a student). The duchess was a tough humorless woman, who didn’t allow me to use the lavatory after 10pm (the noise of the flush disturbed her sleep) and kept a tight rein on her husband and son. The Duke on the other hand was wonderful and mischievous. Whenever he would hear the telltale rustling of a plastic bag, heralding the arrival of my Lebanese takeaway from Al Diwan, he would make up an excuse to talk to me and linger so long that I would invite him to share my food. He would sit cross-legged on the floor in his suit, knees jutting ridiculously high. Afterwards, we would both light a cigarette until the Duchess smelled smoke and stormed into the room, whereby I would cover for him and apologise for my disgusting smoking habit.
Then, when I turned 18, I shared a flat with a tall, beautiful Russian / American girl at La Motte-Picquet Grenelle, (making me by default, the short, funny one, a comparison I did not enjoy). We lived over a cheese shop, which I would visit every morning, asking, “Which of these cheeses, besides the brie, would also be good for breakfast? “None!” The horrified shop assistant would say, as if I had said something unspeakable. I guess by their standards I had.
Then I found Giulia, or she found me. I never used to do my French homework (well, I never used to do any of my homework). Teachers would smell my indolence and swiftly pick me to answer a question. I squirmed around in my chair just long enough for Giulia to offer hers, neatly written out, with the right bits highlighted in helpful colours.
We moved into, a gorgeous and tiny one bedroom in Montparnasse. In this flat, the two of us became known as the feeders of our University, holding frequent dinner parties. When I was in charge, I would make things like tacos with the seasoning that comes in the box and the salsa that comes in the jar.
Sophisticated, I was not.
Giulia on the other hand, could roast a turkey, make stuffing and chocolate mousse. She may as well have pulled a rabbit out of her nostril, I was exceedingly impressed. Read more of this post