Pantry essentials and friend reunions (day 13)

When you live with someone for a non-insignificant amount of time, they tend to leave their mark on you in ways that are sometimes so subtle, you don’t even realize they’re there until the person in question is gone. Nowhere has this been more evident for me than in the way I now set up my kitchen.

I’ve always been very fond of cooking. Some might find it burdensome, but for me, there really is nothing better than wielding a chef’s knife to take out my day’s frustrations on an onion. But up until I started cohabitating with my ex (yeah, it still feels strange writing/saying that), I tended to stay within my comfort zone of Greek/California-healthy foods. Living with someone who loved cooking (and eating) as much as I did pushed me to expand my repertoire, and nights spent reading up on techniques or tackling a FoodLab recipe helped reshape the way I think of my kitchen.

I mean, hell, I actually researched and shopped around for a good, but still affordable chef’s knife when I moved back here. 

And so this afternoon found me taking my mom to Tang Frères in the 13th (after stopping by Pho Banh Cuon 14 for, as the name would suggest, pho) to buy a couple of pantry staples whose absence has been nagging at me. I know that general wisdom often says that post-breakup should be a time to come back into yourself as a singular entity, but there are certain elements of my life as a ‘we’ that I don’t think I want to – or should – shake off. One of those things is having fish sauce and sriracha in my pantry. Cooking is my most steadfast form of therapy; the more layers of flavor I can coax out of what I make, the better.

Tonight also saw the reunion of almost all of the Cité Universitaire friends at a vegetarian Indian resto near Gare du Nord (very typical for us). Although we are all pretty much fully entrenched in the real world and don’t see each other as often as we used to, there are certain connections that can pretty much withstand almost anything. Breakups fucking suck, and pulling yourself back up after one can seem a near impossible task. But surrounding yourself with people, whether you’re sharing a meal, catching up on each other’s lives, or even just laughing while reminiscing about a silly game you all once invented involving a volleyball and grass cuttings can be enough to let some brightness back in.

Back in Paris, Day 8

So due to a weird mixup on someone’s (mine, maybe? Who knows) part, my mom’s flight was actually scheduled for today instead of tomorrow. After a quick rush to Châtelet to see her off on the RER on the way to the airport, I went back home to actually get some version of put together before I set out for the day. And since I had an unexpected day to myself, of course I spent the majority of it walking.

Oh, and buying books.

Behold the official reading list for Greece summer 2017. The bottom two books are new additions, the top left a gift from (and written by) a friend, and Genet is there because of course he is. I’m feeling the pull towards his particular brand of sublime destruction at the moment. 

Since I am leaving to spend the next month in warmer climates tomorrow, meals had to be strategized today. I wanted to get a jumpstart on all the healthy eating I’m about to do – as well as to counteract all the pastries I’ve been eating – but choices were somewhat limited, given how the whole city seemingly shuts down in August. Thankfully, Wild & the Moon was open, and as the weather today more closely resembled fall than summer, I opted for a bowl of their stew of the day. Today it was a Thai-style curry.

Thai-style curry over rice and quinoa at Wild & the Moon

Granted, this move towards healthier eating was later practically nullified with a piece of apricot-pistachio tart at Le Loir dans la Théière (accompanied by a pot of Darjeeling tea), but I think the 2.5 mile walk home made up for that.

Apricot-pistachio tart at Le Loir dans la Théière

And now here I am. Alone in this apartment that I will have to fill with myself until the time comes that the lack of his presence no longer affects the way I move through it. There is a certain potentiality for creativity in that though, and the optimistic side of me wants to keep that alive and present.

Because I am here. 
Because I can move through things on my terms, heal on my terms. 

A month away should – will – be good. I still have a dissertation to tackle after all. 

Back in Paris, Day 4

A note to anyone who has ever thought ‘hmm I think I might want to pay Effie a visit in Paris. Surely that will be a swell, relaxing time…’ : be prepared to walk. Everywhere. All the time. 

You will walk until you think you can no longer stand on your own two feet.

You will walk until the brink of delirium.

You will walk until you start to legitimately consider the merits of a Segway. 

I’m pretty sure I walked my mom to the limits of her sanity today, but I firmly believe that one of the best ways to explore this city is on foot. And considering that, despite the rather ominous-looking clouds, the day was promising to be dry, I figured why not take advantage of it before the unpredictability of fall really kicks in. 

And so we walked from Hôtel de Ville to the Eiffel Tower and back again, ticking off the usual sites while soaking in the almost uncanniness of Paris in August. I have only spent one August here – in 2013 when I was finishing my 1st Master’s thesis -, and back then I was so absorbed in crafting that beast of a paper that I barely noticed how quiet things got, how even with the constant stream of tourists there were these pockets, these empty spaces that were opening up. That the city seemed to oscillate constantly between activity and dormancy, never quite reaching either but performing a strange sort of balancing act, cognizant all the same of this bubble of energy growing – somewhere – underneath. 

I’m still of the opinion that it was rather fortuitous of me to come here when I did, under my current circumstances. Sometimes I feel as though I am standing on the edge of a precipice dreading but also desperately wishing for that inevitable plunge into the unknown. Those who have listened to me ramble about my research interests know how much I invest in the meaning of space, its charged nature, the fact that it is constantly ‘marked’ not just by our presence but by the presence – and absence – of those who occupied it at the same moment we have. The first time I lived in Paris, I was single. When I came back, I had him. Now it’s as though I’ve entered a process of coming full circle, approaching completion but never quite getting there – because can you truly ever come full circle when you’ve been so changed, when you walk through familiar spaces juggling two different versions of yourself all while wondering where this new one fits in? I am in flux. The more my memories pull, the more I want to at once keep them and burst out of them

Then again, this could all just be the steak-frites talking. Or the wine. 

Yes, it’s definitely the wine.