Belonging - Place (Sample)

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The Only Living Boy in Paris

Day 1: Flying Away

This transit into the clouds symbolises everything I am afraid of, yet seems a beacon of every god given opportunity that might await me. Leaving the city you’ve always lived in, to live in a big city such as Paris is an undeniable risk but for me it seems the only option. I need change. I’ve lost my place in Sydney – I am essentially living off food, water and warmth. I’ve no family, no friends and as I seem to loathe waking up everyday, I ought to find some solitude in a new land, both more exotic and romantic than the dull humidity and lifelessness of my homeland.

Sitting in a cramped economy seat, beside someone I wish was not next to me, my thoughts are clouded by my memories. Images of the day both my parents left me, the loneliness this brought me and even the things I will miss – the comforts, the assuredness, the structure of a daily routine. The ‘vegemite-on-toast’ breakfast option feels like a sneer at my leaving – it subconsciously questions whether I’m making the right decision but I remind myself that in Australia, I’m now alone and don’t belong to anyone or anything, my life without meaning. Attempting to comfort my tiringly negative thoughts, I lull myself to a deep, albeit uncomfortable sleep.

Day 2: Moving In

Carrying your suitcase up flights of stairs (because Parisians choose to have miniscule elevators), is not what most people typically love to do after a daylong flight but I’m here. I open the curtains to a cool but thrilling winds embrace. I am really here. This is it. After the tenant has left me, I stand and take it in. No one here either… just like Sydney. I’ll give it some time though; I escaped to France for a reason – new opportunities, beautiful cities and villages, a chance to live again.

I race to unpack, to feel that sense of settle and rearrange the limited furniture I chose not to sell. My apartment looks bare but complete. I’m done. That frustrating mood plagued by a feeling of nothingness, questioning, “is there more?” leaves me speechless, lethargic and alone. I have a whole city to explore, unlimited hours of the day, so many things to do; yet I have no idea where to begin.

Lists. I resolve to write a list to help me organise myself. I scribble down a few of my goals for the upcoming months: get a job and keep it, make a friend, learn to get around the city well, discover a favourite restaurant and just belong.

Day 15: Occupation found, occupation all set

It’s only Day 15 so I really ought to forgive myself for my only accomplishments being working out a train line, utilising my schoolboy French (by that I mean, saying bonjour, merci and au revoir) and realising the French aren’t rude as everyone else insists. One major accomplishment shall be added – today I went for a job interview at a rag trader’s office. Essentially, my only requirement was to speak perfect English so that any English-speaking clients had someone to speak through. Of course it wasn’t hard to get the job but it pays well enough and it’s a start. I begin work tomorrow. Upon returning to my new home, I fiddle through papers to find that list. I cross out ‘get a job’. One down, five to go.

Day 20: Troubles

Don’t ever try and tell someone that running away solves your problems immediately. I’m not saying I regret my choice in moving here but it doesn’t come as easily as I hoped. While I have a job, I have yet to pursue the art of home cooking. Who am I kidding? I’m living off the local brasserie’s ‘pomme frites’ (that’s chips to you and me). But it’s my fault, I know that. I also can’t get away with my limited French anymore. Knowing only 2 years of high school French is stopping me from talking to people at work and finding everything as easy as I would, had I known the language.

I can’t really fulfil my list without learning the language, can I? I can’t feel a sense of happiness; comfort and affinity, if I can’t even get by....
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