My mom taught me two things while she occupied this earth: You don't give up no matter what adversity you're facing and that you can never get lost, you will always find your way.
I remember as a child my mother going on long drives with my sister and I, which used to send me off on a panic, "Mom where are you going? We are lost!" My mother would calmly respond by saying,
You will always find your way.
This whole move to Paris had been nothing short of those two things...feeling lost and at times feeling like I just wanted to give up on my dream and go back to New York even though deep inmy heart, I knew I wouldn't. I arrived on July 26 with all the romanticism of red lipstick, Kimonos, and red wine. The apartment I had rented off of Airbnb was in a perfect area and had the beautiful typical french windows. Everything a girl would ever want when starting life over in Pa-ree.
Well, after traveling with my four suitcases, a large dog crate, and dragging around a fifty plus pound dog, I entered my apartment with my landlord and behold... An apartment with a dirty sofa, dirty mattress, and kitty litter all over the floor and the kitchen table. Yes..THE KITCHEN TABLE! And of course the apartment was dirty. After much panic, I went to the supermarket to buy cleaning supplies because that's one thing I can't take, is other people's dirt!
I can't even describe to you the let down, the disappointment. Yes, the apt was a great size, in a great neighborhood but the contents inside were ugh. After somewhat cleaning that night, I made a call to Airbnb notifying them of what I walked into and consequently cancelled my 3 month reservation and decided I would stay for a month, since it was already paid for and would probably not be able to receive a refund. I had to make peace with what was and just kept on cleaning until 6 days later...
I woke up that morning with the most obnoxious itching all over my body that I have ever experienced in my life. I literally had red welts all over my body and that's when it dawned on me that the bugs I had been seeing around the apartment were not some French insect I had never seen in my life!
Yes, you guessed it... Bed Bugs.
Thanks to google, the mug shot was very clear. It was them. I can't even describe the horror of finding that out. I tried to get in touch with the owner, no answer. I called my good friends in the South of France and asked them to call SMASH which is a pest controller who specializes in exterminating bedbugs. (Or take a look on http://punaises.fr/societe/75-Paris.htm. )
They were booked until the end of August and here I was... August 1. They suggested another exterminator who luckily had an opening that day at 1pm and I took it. Luckily, even though he didn't speak English, he did speak a bit of Spanish thanks to having a Columbian wife. I had to take myself and my dog out of the apartment for 5 hours. One thing I couldn't understand was instead of suggesting that the mattress and sofa be thrown away, I was told that it would actually be fine to sleep on after it was exterminated. Now I don't know about you but who the "bleep" would want to sleep on poison and dead bed bugs?? Not only that, they don't use plastic mattress covers to prevent further infestation. This was a total culture shock for me.
I came back to the apartment 7 hours later to find a complete mess. I started to bag all my clothes but was also ordered by the exterminator not to mop. I literally had dead bed bugs all over the floor and decided that no I could not stay there. I called Airbnb and told them my situation. They wanted pictures of my bites and the actual bed bugs to make sure that I was telling the truth... OMG...
I stayed up till 2 a.m, contemplating if I was going tosleep on the kitchen table which was no place for me to sleep. I dragged my dog into the bathroom with me and decided to sleep in the tub. The thoughts that were going through my head were "Are bed bugs going to find their way in the tub? What place can I move into tomorrow? What hotel would allow a 53 pound dog? Where would I find my next apartment as this one was stressful to find? Why the fuck is all this happening!!??"
At one point my dog jumped over my tub and started peering at me and whimpering. "Why the fuck would you take us out of our comfy Brooklyn apartment to a bug infested place in France?"I could hear him say. An hour and a half later, I received a message from Airbnb notifying me that they would reimburse me the days I was not staying there plus $200 towards a hotel. Immediately, I called a hotel, Hotel Marais Home. I got the green light that they would accept me and my medium sized dog...Vive le France. One thing that I can say is that Paris is very dog friendly. I don't know if I would have been able to find a dog friendly hotel on my first call anywhere else. It was a nice boutique hotel by the beautiful Marais area and Place Republique.
Needless to say, the next 3 months, were a bit excruciating. I moved 4 times in one month, was denied left and right apartments because I did not have a French bank account nor a guarantor. By the grace of God, I was able to meet the right people at the right time and was able to get the help I needed. I finally moved into an apartment in one of the most beautiful parts of Paris and was able to open a bank account thanks to a new-found friend.
Life here is an adventure for me. I came to Paris knowing absolutely no one, spoke no french (and still don't) and to be honest, didn't know much about the culture. Now I have friends, my inspiration is always on a high here, and I am doing things that I was never able to do before such as doing short weekend trips to different countries.
Though things weren't easy in the beginning, it was all worth it. Who wouldn't be happy in the baguette and wine capital of the world? My mom was right, I did find my way.