Once upon a time, there was a little dreamer. Like so many others, she ended up moving to Paris to feel the freedom of being able to do so, and to roam the old, atmospheric streets. The move was inevitable, having sparkled in the horizon for a long time. She adapted to life there quickly, picking up baguettes from the bakery like any Parisian, the long, thin bread packaged in mere napkin-sized papers. And so she’d walk each day – among the scooters, cars, dogs – waving her breakfast in the fresh, Parisian air.
Back home far North, she had been a student and she’d managed to get an internship in Paris. When it was time to leave for work in the mornings in Paris, she would take two métro lines and then transfer to the bus, traveling to the outskirts of town. Each morning, she would get off the line 4 at Montparnasse, where she would then transfer to line 12. The trip took over an hour each way.
The Montparnasse metro station in the mornings, she discovered, was full of business people, all in a hurry. Whenever a metro left the station, the platform would soon flood in a new wave of people. The women all wore high heeled pumps and no one had winter clothes. The metro’s climate was subtropical and it was easy to forget the month was January. The men were clad in huge, colorful scarves with their smart shirts and they read books casually while standing. Some of the more bohemian types had dressed in over-sized woolen sweaters with visible holes, soon the fashion rage elsewhere in Europe. Day after day, the same street musicians would play their instruments in the underground corridors and the same beggars would pass from metro wagon to wagon telling their stories.
The more she traveled through Montparnasse, the more she started viewing the station as a video game being played at double speed. It started to seem surreal. The speed – she had to keep up. Like driving on a freeway, if someone was slower, the whole system would collapse. There were always people passing her by in a smooth, automated half-run, curving left and right to overcome obstacles. Everyone going the same direction, until a crossroads would appear in the tunnels and some would dart left, some keep going straight. If you stopped to tie a shoelace, you might get trampled. The girl never stopped, not even to buy a chocolate bar she craved or the tempting Glamour magazine in the news stands at the edges of breaks in the corridor.
She would buy those later. She soon developed a habit of walking back home from work, no matter how many hours it took. It was the best part of being in Paris, after all, the walks. Each arrondissement and each quartier had their own atmosphere. Sometimes, she felt like she’d entered a farmer’s market, some moments transported her to Asia, and in some streets everything suddenly became very shiny and posh.
After work, she would go to the internet cafés, soon picking out her favorite go-to one. Since blogging wasn’t yet common in her world, she would write long emails to her friends and family back home. Her friends would write her back, telling her that they’d laughed so hard that people were giving them strange looks when they read those emails. She now has no idea what she’d written about back then.
Sometimes I feel like I’ve already lived many lives.