My friend Gyorgyi is changing apartments in Paris and I’ve arrived on my design horse to help with the move. She leaves the 15th arrondissement (neighbourhood) relocating to the 18th, Montmartre district, with a peek-a-boo view of Basilica of the Sacré Cœur.
Today we are meeting with the proprietor to take a second look at the apartment. Benjamin a well-mannered and sweet young man of 25ish walks us through the four rooms. We inquire as to the operation of appliances, placement of extra bookcases and the general business of how-tos prior to taking possession of a new apartment.
As Gyorgyi and Ben discuss the particulars in the Parisian white living room, I drift from room to room mentally moving furniture, hanging pictures and reflecting on the lives of the previous inhabitants who’ve long since moved on.
Newly painted plaster soothes away years of indentations and cracks, whitewashing fingerprints and hushing shadows behind a glossy white facade. Living in a centuries old city you understand you are only passing through, your imprint on your surroundings reduced to a layer in time.
Don’t get me wrong, I love designing a new home, the freshness of it, the endless possibilities. However in inner-city Paris NEW is not an option. Recycled is a necessity and appreciated for its inventiveness in preservation.
As I walk through the apartment I’m mindful of the history imbedded within these walls. The families that have grown together. The conversations conveyed or problems solved. How many sunny Christmas mornings filled with excited children waking at dawn, or love songs sung accompanied by champagne and spring strawberries?
My philosopher friend takes possession of a slice of history in the recognizable district housing the Moulin Rouge and the numerous artsy squares in Montmartre. How will she fill her corner of time in this apartment? What history will she leave watermarked on the plaster walls of her apartment?
Have you ever returned to a place you once lived? Had it changed from when you lived there?