Is Paris the next place I can call Home ?
The weather is terrible – it’s gloomy. It rains, there is strong wind and clouds. This surrounding makes you feel lonely and uncertain. Sad and overwhelmed with the amount of work to do.
This feeling usually corresponds to your hidden desire to stay in bed, drink hot chocolate or coffee and watch a nice movie.
However, I stay outside under the awning of the building, waiting for her to show up and present her home.
I don’t know what it is about her but as always she bursts with energy even though the weather is terrible. With no reluctance she runs towards me, greets me and lets me inside the building where her apartment is located. We enter through a nicely engraved wooden door. A beautiful mosaic on the floor catches my attention and invites me to follow the corridor deeper. But it is impossible: at least for now. We can’t go further because apparently she doesn’t live here yet. Somehow there were some problems with the dates of moving in. There is some renovation which will last a couple of days more.
We decide to turn around and go out but the rain seems to have intensified. We are trapped in between her not-yet new house and a hotel where she stays. We decide to quickly run.
A bit soaked, we enter her room on the second floor. It is small and there is a big bed and a little table. I also spot a big black suitcase in between the table and a bed. I look around in order to see more but can’t locate any. What catches my attention are the colours of the room. Everything is green or at least includes a bit of green in different shades. She tells me that she likes it because green is her favourite colour. We sit on her bed which at once makes us feel closer to each other and casual. I start with a few random questions related to her weekend, Parsons and Paris but just after a few minutes my head is full with questions that I actually hadn’t prepared for this conversation.
What do you think about home? What words represent Home for you? Is it a safe place? A nice house? Family? Animals ? Bed? Food?
Her response shocks me because she realises that it’s weird because She doesn’t really have a place to call home. She indicates that her family have a house in Egypt and that her dad mostly spends his time there and in the US. Her brother lives in Lebanon with his girlfriend. However, she says that technically the place she could possibly call “ home home” would be Colombia because most of her family is there. She says that it’s crazy because she is closer to them than to her dad.
From this part of the conversation, I realise that there is one person whom she didn’t talk about when it came to family topics but whom she had said a few things about before. It’s her mom.
I ask myself: Is it fine to ask about her or not? Would she take it as too personal? But something inside me tells me that this is a key to her portrait.
So I ask.
She, with no hesitation, starts a story that I will try to portray:
My mom died a couple of years ago, because of the cancer.
It was kind of why I came to France.
Because that was her favourite place.
I was in 6th, 7th grade
It was Tuesday I suppose
They said she was sick and that we were leaving
I literally went from school to the airport
The moving went fast
All my stuff was already packed
We moved to the US, to Houston because they have the best medical care.
I had 2 and a half years with her with the awareness of her illness. However, I felt that I was prepared.
After, in Texas, my dad traveled a lot, and my older brother was never there, so I was aways alone
I didn’t want to be there
So It was my idea, my choice to go to boarding school in France
I have a horse
Her name is Lucy
She is white and has blue eyes
She is in Argentina
Every time I have a break I go back to ride her
We have been through so much together
I can feel how she misses me
Horses are really smart and have the best memory
She is a big part of my family
I really want to bring the horse here
My mom loved seeing me ride
She would always be there for me
After this conversation I look around her apartment in order to find some personal things or something that could tell me more. It surprises me that there is only one black suitcase. She tells me that she keeps her clothes always packed and that she likes keeping things organised. She does not feel comfortable keeping them in the hotel’s wardrobes. Probably because there have been so many of them. She tells me that all her pictures of mom and family are in the storage with her other personal stuff. But she has a Polaroid of her her best friend and her favourite math teacher. She also emphasises that she has her jewellery, which is very close to her because it was her mother’s. “That’s something I keep with me where ever I go.”
After I leave her house I wonder what happens when it is hard to give an exact definition of home. Is it possible to be a resident of the world? To travel so much that it is hard for us to even specify what we call home?
When the family dissolves, everyone chooses different a direction and it is only you. You stand at the crossroads and try to chose the right path. But which one is right ? Should you listen to your gut or follow your heart? And there she is, standing in the middle, with no one to decide for her. Carrying one black suitcase. However, for her there is nothing more valuable than this. Inside are the relics of her family, of her. The ones she has been keeping with her, her whole life.
Precious, important, close – Home.