It’s 4:16 am and I am eating yoghurt with a fork because I only have one spoon. It’s the only thing in my sink but I guess I couldn’t spare 10 seconds to wash it. Oh and before you think I am some sort of early bird getting the worm, sorry to disappoint you but I have not yet fallen asleep for the night.
Is it too late for that now? Should I just brush my teeth for the day, take a shower and put back on the clothes I almost fell asleep in? Or choose from the pile of other already worn clothes stacked up on my open suitcase. I have been meaning to unpack it since two weeks ago when I retrieved it from my homestay mother. She was keeping it for me while I pretended to take a trip to Ireland for the holidays but in fact stayed in my new apartment cooped up like a fowl for a month. the month long break i’d been anticipating since I got here as I had plans of doing a mini tour de France.
And why did I lie about going to Ireland? So as to not have to admit that i’d be spending the holidays and my birthday alone. It wasn’t such a mournful thing until I started imagining what other people might make of it. I thought they would feel sorry for me, or think I didn’t have anybody. So even though at the beginning I was okay with it, I decided maybe I was wrong and I should have felt bad.
I said goodbye and they wished me a safe flight. I walked out into the courtyard and then through the mirrored lobby and took one last look at my reflection. Ten minutes later I hopped onto the B line and rode six stops to Jean-Macé. Then four weeks, alone, in a white box on the 6th floor in the 7th arrondissement.
If I go to sleep now , which will be a feat in itself since I’m not in the least bit sleepy - I would need to wake up in 3.5 hours to make it to the first doctor. If my prayers are answered they will prescribe some medication and over this week can acclimate and be in good shape for the start of the semester on the 22nd.
If this all sounds a bit last minute and rushed that’s because it is. Well, last resort is more accurate. I have exhausted all my options. I think...
I tried exercise, music, dancing, reading, looking at old photos, speaking to family, meditation, things that I would have suggested to someone else in the same boat. I tried to muster up the strength to do the things I love like go out and explore and take pictures but I just can’t find any interest in any of those things anymore. None. The music always lifts my spirits but there’s the inevitable exhaustion followed by the fall back into despair. Except with a pounding headache over the silence. Turn up the music to drown out the melancholy. Fails every time.
Sometimes a good thing happens, and my spirits lift for a while.
Last week it was at the housing office where I went to turn in a form. There’s always some form to turn in. There was a girl who walked in behind me with her suitcase and her passport in a waterproof sleeve with some other documents. Japanese. She spoke no French and a bit of English. The desk people only spoke French. Before I left they asked if I could help them explain something to her. I’d been waiting for this moment since I got to France. To act as a translator to a stranger. To be in the right place at the right time. It was about rental insurance. That she needed it and where to get it. I’d done the same thing for myself a few weeks earlier and so knew exactly what to say. I wrote down the name of the metro station opposite the bank and the name in French. I told her the people at the bank spoke English and she said ‘thank you, thank you so much’.
I was happy the rest of the afternoon. Felt useful somehow. It lasted maybe 3 hours. Then I came home. I looked around and saw my printer, my coffee maker, all the clothes in the pile and the white white walls. And I realized there was nobody else here but me.
I got a coffee maker a week ago, a late birthday gift, and I have a sample box of 14 different types of coffee and each one is more delicious than the last and the machine is so small and cute and works like a charm. Every time I press the button for an espresso I wish I had someone here to turn to and say ‘isn’t this great’ or ‘see how nice this smells?’
But there is no one here but me.
Sometimes I wonder if this is really what I gave up all my books on my bookshelf for. To come to Lyon and be all alone.