Archive for the paris Category

Posted in paris with tags , on May 18, 2012 by ana

Today, Paris feels hard and lonely. This week has been tough. I had a job at a famous bakery, and I lost it after two weeks there. I’m not completely crushed, and I’ve managed to pretty much ignore any bruises my ego feels, because it didn’t feel right for me.  This job fell in my lap and as quickly as it came it went but I learned and observed and got better at things that weren’t my strength. Maybe that is all I was meant to get from it. Still, there is a low level panic that permeates everything at the moment. I think I’ve hit a wall and I’m not sure how to climb over it.   A tiny part of me wants to run home but I’m not even sure where that place is anymore.

The other day I thought, I have no idea what is going to happen in my life, no clue, I can guess or daydream or hope. I can look at the past and see how I have always managed to make wherever I am my own but what will happen in the coming years I really don’t know. There are things that I want now that I never wanted before and there are things that I have always wanted that always seem to elude me. Somewhere between those two sentiments I hope lies the answer. The low level panic… Well, that’s just one big, unshakeable, nagging, almost imperceptible question. Can I do this? And by this I don’t just mean Paris or learning French. Can I create the life that I want for myself. And, of course, the answer is yes. But right now I feel vulnerable and shy and uncertain. I will arrive wherever I’m supposed to, that much I know, but in taking the step to move here I have opened my life up to more uncertainty. Maybe that is what I needed. Maybe that is where I need to make peace right now.

It is too easy for me to to romanticize experiences in an attempt to build a linear narrative around my life. I’ve been trying not to do that as much anymore. Paris has been cinematic and magical but it’s not perfect. It’s still the next day of my life and the next and the next. All the things that preoccupy me still preocupy me that doesn’t change with a move. I feel lonely at times but it’s the same loneliness that has always been there on and off through out my life. A loneliness that is appeased by spending time by myself.

I have made friends. I have laughed. I have danced. I had a sweet romance that I wish I could have held unto but couldn’t. Now that it is gone it hurts. In my head it is easy to let it go, to say this why it came into my life and why it left. I learned a lot. I got more than I bargained for, in a good way. That boy left an unexpected emptiness. I want to say that it was nothing. I wanted it to be nothing but I miss him, and I don’t think we will ever see each other again. It is better that way. And even knowing this, a part of me hopes that there will be an email or a text, a part of me can not conceive that we will never be together again but most of me knows that that is the way it is. I loved this boy briefly, openly, and as unselfishly as I could. The intensity was returned. I think it is easy to love like that if there is an expiration date and maybe it wouldn’t have been so easy to surrender if I knew that I could have him for awhile. I know that I learned a lot about myself in this experience, about how often I try to change and force things to be things they are not. I feel loss but I hope that soon that feeling will go away.

Walking to class today I thought, feeling loss is a way of still holding on. I can’t wait for the feeling to pass and become just complete joy in having had the experience. I can apply the same sentiment to so many other moments of my life particularly in the last few years. I have lit candles at the church by my house. I have done what I do best when my heart is squished- drank, smoked, written long emails, talked about it, and walked, and walked, and walked. Was it the boy or is it that I simply want love in my life, tenderness, laughter, warm skin beside me. A little of both, more the latter I suppose. I try to let go but I think I just need to sit with the feelings and try not to force them to be one thing or another.

A few days ago I walked to the canal. I sat by the bridge where we had said goodbye and tried to release the whole experience.  I sat on a bench and watched the water flow by. Quietly and methodically I read and erased every text he sent me. Some of them were beautiful. I said a silent thank you after I erased each one. When I was done with his I did the same with all the ones I’d written him, then I erased his number. I felt lighter.

I miss Stevie. There have been moments this past week when I would have given anything to sit in her sunny living room. She wrote me a beautiful email:

You’re also, deep down, a hopeless romantic.  Don’t lose that.  It makes you special because it’s not that phony, fairy tale version of what “hopeless romantic” entails.  I think hopeless is the wrong word.  Maybe it’s more of a magical romantic, like magical realism.  You’re an Allende romantic where love is real but capable of beautiful, magical things.

She is right about me and romance. I want to keep that but I also want to shift.

I thought this move, this year, was a leap, a moment of things taking off in a new direction but maybe it is simply a crossing on a bridge. I feel I’m growing up. The boy opened my heart in a way that I didn’t even realize needed to happen. I once read somewhere that when the “new” world was discovered entries in a ship’s log book said that after weeks and weeks, or however long it had been, for the first time someone saw a branch floating in the water. A few days later a bird. These were signs that land was close by but at that time they didn’t know to read it that way. I feel that when I left Leo it was the beginning of a journey, maybe not to discover a new land but something that had always been there. There have been branches and bright stars and hummingbirds but I have yet to reach dry land. And there have been moments when I thought I would drown. Moments, like right now, when it feels that all there is is water all around me and no dry land in sight. But maybe it is just a little further past where I can see at this moment or maybe I’m not meant to reach dry land. Maybe I’m just meant to look up and be constantly in awe of the stars.

We need in love to practice only this: letting each other go. For holding on comes easily–we do not need to learn it. ~Rilke

Posted in paris with tags , , on April 21, 2012 by ana

Oh, life. I have been in a weepy panic  for the last two days as a result of many things… money, language obstacles, baking frustrations, too much partying, glimpses of falling for someone.

Cleo came to town last week with her friend Rob. It was so amazing to have her here. We had so much fun. Spent our days walking around, drinking beer in cafes, going to Versailles. She met my friends, we cooked dinner, and went out to Candelaria. Every night was soaked in wine. Friday was so far one of my favorite days in Paris. I met my friend Charlie at the market in the late morning. We bought cheese, olives, white asparagus and babaganoush for a party that night. The day was sunny, a rare thing these days. I was hung over but happy. After the market I met Cleo and we went to Merci for lunch and the Isabel Marant sample-sale after. I bought a beautiful dress I can’t really afford. Charlie texted that this boy, a painter I had hooked up with, might come to the party. It gave me a small thrill. I had met him a few weeks before during an afternoon and evening of  frolicking, good music, and alcohol. We had kissed on the street late at night. A few days later he came over to my apartment. We had talked and laughed and rolled around for hours then gone for a walk by the canal.

Friday night Cleo, Rob, Iris and I  went to a few galleries with Charlie then went back to his house for the champagne blitz. I have yet to go to a party at his house where the night doesn’t end up being dusted in glitter.  The music was fantastic, the dim lights dusky with smoke, and the bubbly flowed and flowed. When the painter boy walked in I had such a nice buzz and felt girly and pretty. Cleo and Iris said he couldn’t take his eyes of me, and I was so giddy and a little nervous. I was happy that they met him because it’s always nice when your friends can put a face to your stories. I kept winking at him. We stood by the window, smoked a cigarette, and talked. Eventually the  party moved to some brief dancing in the Marais and  debauchery at the duplex. Everyone around seemed light and happy. It was crowded, and I talked with some cute gay boys from Brazil. The boy and I stepped outside and kissed on the street, where we had first kissed. At the end of the night we left in search of a cab and shared a ride with an English couple that had managed to hail the only cab around. We rode with them all the way to  St. Germain and back. It felt like we went on a little trip.  The boy told me some of his stories, one in particular was very sad. He had begun to tell me that afternoon at my house but had stopped. I think he needed to tell someone. In the morning I left his home feeling sort of undone.

Saturday, Cleo, Iris,  Rob and I sat by the Canal and had lunch then walked to a bookstore. That night more friends arrived, High School friends from Puerto Rico. One of them I hadn’t seen in at least ten years. I was so excited to see them but woke up sad on Sunday. Cleo and Rob were leaving that morning. I had barely slept in the past days. Lack of sleep always gives me a brief but intense (is there any other kind) existential crisis. My life has been feeling so sparkly and it hit me hard how transitory things are here as an expat. Most of the people I have met are leaving in the coming months. The boy, in an ironic twist of fate, is moving to LA in two weeks.

The day was cold and gray.  I got home after saying goodbye to Cleo and Rob and cried with my roommate Katie. I had wanted to cry when I left the boy’s house on Saturday morning but I was so dehydrated there were no tears to be shed. I had wanted to cry because Saturday morning there was more I wanted to say but I was too hungover and needed to get back to my friends. I had wanted to cry because it had been so long since I had felt sweetness and connection, since I had felt warmth and tenderness, and sometimes there is nothing like feeling someone else’s skin next to yours. And though I was ready to call it a day and turn myself in for a good night’s sleep I texted him that I knew it was complicated but that I wanted to see him one more time.

I walked  into his tiny garden apartment  knowing I would never see him again but wanting one more night.  In Spanish one of the words for sex is “polvo” which means dust or I suppose in the case of sex may mean to dust. It was a night full of magic dust. We listened to a radio station that played old vinyl records that crackled as Billie Holiday sang. I told him about my past loves and he told me more of his story. It is not mine for me to tell so I won’t share it here. When I told him about Leo and about Italy he said that I set fire inside people. That I had set one in him and that he hoped I found someone really good, who really loved me and could give me all I wanted. We talked about art and baking and writing. We talked about sex, love, learning French, France, Puerto Rico, Africa, and LA. We looked into each others eyes for minutes on end as if playing an unspoken game of blink. Is there a word for when your skin shimmers with electricity while engaged with someone? Surely there must be.

This boy and I are twelve years apart. We told each other it would never be and that we would never forget each other. And like an Erykah Baddu song he said,” maybe we will meet next life.”

“Maybe we know each other from the previous one,” I said.

“Yes, maybe,” he said in his frenchy English.

“I like that,” I said. “Some people come into your life for a brief moment and you never see them again but you carry them with you forever.”

“You already live in my mind and my heart,” he said.

In the morning he went out for croissants and came back with a bag of oranges. He made me juice. He said he couldn’t see me his last week in Paris because he was afraid we would completely bond. Now, writing this, I know he is right.

We had breakfast and talked more about art. He showed me the project he is working on. We took a shower, hugged tightly, and said goodbye. I left his house thinking I had just lived a Parisian dream. It felt perfect. A beginning, a middle, and an end. The afternoon at my house, a few weeks earlier, before I knew anything about him it had felt light and airy. Light and airy is what I wanted but instead it became one of those moments that surprise you, that you can’t quite understand. Why did I meet this person? I walked around for hours in the rain. Maybe hoping to run into him. I texted him that I was sad and that I would never forget him and he wrote back that he had listened to a Gainsbourg song all day and thought of me. That he was sorry that it had to be that way. I wrote back and said that it was perfect. That I just wanted to tell him he had touched my heart before he disappeared completely. And just as I did when I was 26 I cried and listened to a lot of Jeff Buckley. Of course it is hard to let it go, to not be shaken to the core by it. It was like a  movie.

I cried all day with Iris as we walked in search of a mixer for me to buy. I cried as we ate a cookie and drank coffee at Kookaburra, and she sweetly told me mine were better.  We met our friend Caroline for dinner. When I told her about my entanglement she said, “even though in our heads we know better it doesn’t mean somewhere deep in us we don’t wish it could somehow work.”

Italy had written me earlier in the day. And I had written back that it was truly, fully time to let go, that it didn’t do anyone any good to not move on. I told him he had been a great inspiration to me. He told me that meeting me had been important to him and that he would never forget it.

I vacillate between feeling so whole and happy for the experiences just as they are and wanting to keep them close, but holding on to things takes away the quality in them that makes them a celebration of life and turns them into questions and tears. Of course, the residual sadness has to be mourned but then it has to be allowed to swirl under the stars.

On the way home from dinner Iris said, you have been here two months and you have already had this beautiful thing happen to you. I think Paris is telling you that this is where you need to be. And it does feel like that. It feels like the one door left opened has closed so I can fully step into Paris. My brief French love reminded me of who I want – someone with an open, kind heart, an engaging mind, a great sense of humor, and massive sex appeal. This week from Cleo to my friends from home and everything in between helped me define what it is non-negotiable when it comes to my love life. I want someone who loves me just as I am. All the good bits and the not so good parts. Leo could never do that and Italy wouldn’t allow himself to fall into it. I don’t want to convince anyone that they should love me. I’ve never had to convince my friends. I want love to gravitate to me just as they have.

There is so much more that I could say but that is the gist of it. There are friends still here that I must go meet.  I needed to write it all down because if I don’t write my life is not the same. Our stories are better when shared.



“Everything is biographical, Lucian Freud says. What we make, why it is made, how we draw a dog, who it is we are drawn to, why we cannot forget. Everything is collage, even genetics. There is the hidden presence of others in us, even those we have known briefly. We contain them for the rest of our lives, at every border we cross.” – Michael Ondaatje

coup de foudre

Posted in paris with tags on April 6, 2012 by ana

Life in Paris

Posted in paris with tags , on April 3, 2012 by ana

Friday night I went to a beautiful dinner at Liza’s, a lebanese restaurant owned by a lovely friend of a friend. Every inch of the table was covered with small bowls of deliciousness- artichokes with lemons and peas, hummus with lamb and pomegranate seeds, sautéed bitter greens, lamb tartare, halloumi, fatoosh, sausages, lamb chops and tiny potatoes with garlic and lemon. Afterwards we went to Silencio. A  haunting boy and girl band from Seattle was playing on their tiny stage when we walked in. I sat on the steps across from them and thought, life won’t always be like this. By which I meant that life won’t always be so unplanned and lovely. Every day right now meanders and unfolds as it wishes too. The music was beautiful and I thought- I want to make beautiful things. I want to create a conversation about beauty and pleasure with the things I make. Then a sneaky anxious voice slipped in- I need to get a job. I need to speak French. I’m having such a hard time baking. I quickly drowned it with some dancing and champagne but it came back to bite me in the ass the next day.

I woke up feeling blah. Iris talked me into going to yoga. She made me coffee and toast. I was so impressed by the fact that she got home at five in the morning and was determined to go that I got out of bed.  We schlepped across town and made it just in time. It felt good to stretch and twist my worries away.

During class my friend and yoga teacher,  Marc, mentioned something I had said to him. Hearing it repeated back to me made me realize that in the 24 hour span, where my cookies didn’t bake quite right and the flavor was not as I remembered it, I had let go of my one rule of the game here in Paris. The rule that I always have to say YES.  That the only answer is YES.  YES because everything is brand new, because I don’t know anything, and because I have to say yes in order for anything to happen, in order to get anywhere. Any worry or obstacle is just as worthy of a welcoming yes as any sparkliness.

After class Iris and I went for food at Candelaria. After spending a perfect evening there, earlier in the week,  eating tacos and drinking margaritas with cute girls and gays I was really craving it. I really miss Mexican food. I’ve even dreamt about it since moving here. It was such a lazy, loungey brunch and I thought about how excited I am to bring Cleo there for a drink when she comes next week.

Once home I still couldn’t quite shake the anxiety and sadness. I get such pleasure from baking and such a sense of self. Not being able to do it well really throws me off and frustrates me. While on the one hand the ingredient dilemma is an exciting challenge, on the other it really shows my weaknesses. That’s not a bad thing. In the end it will make me better but for the time being it makes me uncomfortable. It makes me feel less. It’s funny how the voice of worth can sneak up at every turn.

In the end a talk with Iris about appreciating the fullness of the moment and an email from Bree:

You really need to not get frustrated and just practice practice practice. it’s sooo different in france, from the flours, to the temperatures to the water and milk and sugar. (seriously, go to london and have a black tetley tea w milk and sugar then try make the EXACT same tasting one here. PAS POSSIBLE.)

reminded me of the thing that I struggle with the most. To have patience with the rhythm of my life.

Dear Paris,

Posted in 37, paris with tags on March 28, 2012 by ana

When I see an angry little boy practically in tears, wearing a blazer and speaking a mile a minute, I think your children might just be the cutest in the whole wide world.

coup de foudre

Posted in paris with tags , on March 28, 2012 by ana



Posted in paris with tags , , on March 26, 2012 by ana

Friday was a gorgeous day. I sat by the canal and talked with a friend about traveling, about baking and how hard it is to find the right sugar and flour in Paris, about how much Parisians love American cookies. I told her how strange it felt to be American. Something I have always been but have never said I am. I am, have always been, Puerto Rican but here I am American. Here being Puerto Rican is not a nationality. As I walked up the stairs to my apartment I thought- I have never lived in a foreign country. Then I thought- ah, but you have, since you were 18 you have. Then I sat in the small nook of the kitchen window as the cat slept by the last direct ray of light. The pigeons stood still, perched on the chimneys across from me, and I looked at the sky.

Moving shakes things up. I always remember my dreams best when I sleep somewhere new. Changing position changes perspective. Leaving Leo gave me a sense of self I never had before. Leaving LA has made me aware of how full my life is. It is nice to swim in feelings of what I have as opposed to what I don’t, as opposed to what I want.  It is wonderful, it is productive to feel happiness with what you have. There is so little we can control in our lives. Our perspective and our efforts, that’s about it. I keep thinking about something my mom said recently. That life wasn’t so much about paying your dues but about contributing. Where you give your time, your love, your attention is where you reap your light.

When I first got here I emailed my old writing teacher Jack. Every few months he writes emails to his students meant to kindle a love of writing. His last email was about fact and fiction, writing and art, and Pina, the movie about Pina Bausch. After reading it I wrote to him and told him how much I enjoyed his “letters”.  We’ve been emailing about Paris ever since.  It’s exciting to correspond with someone I find inspiring.

Since moving I have been in touch with a lot of long lost friends dispersed through out the world. Some emails have been proper catch-ups and others a simple lovey touch-n-go. After dreaming that I walked past my friend James on a street here in Paris I wrote him. I think the last time that I talked to him was about twelve years ago. He wrote back: I’m glad we reconnected, in Paris. Hopefully we can reconnect one day in real life, with fruity cocktails, on a beach, in PR. The last time was on a warm windy night, at some party. I remember it. 

There was a time that I hung out a lot with James. He was my boyfriend’s best friend. He was Anouk’s roommate for awhile. We were so young and as he said in another email, but thought we were so old. We took ourselves very seriously in the way that art school kids tend to do.

I spent practically the whole weekend at Butte Chaumont- drinking wine with friends on Saturday and then Sunday with Iris listening to music and taking photos on her great-grandmother’s blanket. I had fun slutty-kisses with a cute Parisian late Saturday night and rosé by the Seine late on Sunday. The weather is making me think of NY. James’ email is making me think of NY. Kissing a 26 year-old is making me think of being 26 in NY. And all of it feels very weather appropriate.



Dear man smoking across the way,

Posted in paris with tags on March 21, 2012 by ana

I see you bought a bonsai tree in a heavy blue pot and tied it to your window railing with some string. Are you sure that’s a smart idea?


kick, ball, change

Posted in paris with tags , on March 21, 2012 by ana


I’m sick again. It’s going around so I’ve heard.

I don’t know if it is all the therapy or my age or that I’m living somewhere new or simply that there is more of it in my life right now but I feel a tremendous capacity to appreciate joy at the moment. To revel in it. Simply stated I’m happy. I feel present, productive, inspired, and I’m having a great time. There are unanswered questions, and I can’t say that they don’t sometimes exasperate me but today, right now, I don’t feel a need to answer them.

Last Sunday I met my new friend Bree to go to an exercise class. We got there early and ended up jumping into a class that was just about to start, a dance class, Zumba to be exact. I had so much fun. I couldn’t stop laughing the whole time. Our instructor, who was really invested in teaching us each move, was really funny. Picture a Monty Python character who is a dancer and looks like he could be Gerard Depardieu’s younger brother. Then imagine him wearing a tied-dye shirt with a little dread-locked smiley face in the front. I really loved going to a class in Paris. It made me feel like I am continuing my life here. Dancey classes were such a part of my life in LA and also it makes me feel like I’m making Paris my home.

Monday, I had a job interview. I baked all day before going. I wanted to bring something with me but our oven is so temperamental and I wasn’t happy with the results. Everything tasted good but nothing baked quite right. Still, it was the perfect way to spend the hours leading up to it. I felt so centered and confident. And I felt like I was myself, a very sparkly version of myself, at the interview so regardless of the outcome it feels like a good experience.

On the way back home I was thinking of the mess in the kitchen, of un-opened correspondence, of French homework, of books waiting to be read, and emails I had yet to answer. Walking from Republique home it hit me- it’s okay. It will get done. There is no rush. Maybe that shift in thinking is one of  the main reasons that I feel happy even if I have a runny nose. I hope I always remember how to diffuse that feeling of being overwhelmed. In the past it has brought me so much tension and created such havoc in my relationships.

coup de foudre

Posted in paris with tags , on March 20, 2012 by ana