It sure felt good to be back in Paris after traveling Europe for a week.
It was definitely weird to have only gone to school for about a week (two, if you count the Welcome Programme as “school”) before going on vacation. In total, I’d been in Europe for well over a month at this point, but I’d actually only attended classes for a small fraction at that point. I figured, though, I would have 2-3 months still to get into a routine of going to class and coming home and maybe going out sometimes or traveling during the weekends. Even if my life up until early March hadn’t been terribly “normal” I thought it soon would be. Jokes on me, I guess.
By March, coronavirus had become a relatively big story in both Europe and the US, and I was beginning to consider the possibility of getting sent home. Still, it seemed like a pretty far-fetched option at that point. Worst case scenario, I thought maybe I’d get stuck in Paris and be unable to travel on the weekends anymore.
Early March (or at least what was left of March until I eventually got sent home) was devoted to getting accustomed to life in Paris. Despite having lived in my apartment there on the 14e arrondissement, it hadn’t felt like I’d actually spent much time there.
So I set about trying to fix that. One day, after class, I took the reading I’d been assigned for school with me to a small park about a five minute walk from my apartment. It was late afternoon, so the light began fading earlier than I might’ve liked, but it was nice to study somewhere other than my apartment or the cramped Sciences Po library (never thought I’d miss Hesburgh Library) for a little while. The weather was mild enough that I was comfortable in just this light leather jacket.
As I was leaving to go home for dinner, I had what I think might’ve been my first instance of coronavirus-related racism. There was a (white) woman who’d parked herself at the entrance of the park and was asking people for money as they left, and as I was packing up, I dreaded having to walk by and ignore her. Weirdly though, as I approached, she took one look at me and crossed to the opposite end of the street. I distinctly remember making eye contact with her before she did so.
Microaggressions are stupid and awful for many reasons, but one of the worst is that you can never really know if what just happened actually had anything to do with race. It’s like being gaslit by yourself. By March, I’d already heard stories about Asian people being mistreated because of coronavirus-related fears, and I felt as though I got a few lingering glances on the metro when I coughed, so that’s what I wondered immediately had been going through the woman’s mind — but I’ll never know.
Skirt: Thrifted (Poshmark)
Jacket: Thrifted (Free’p’star Paris)