England was a womb. I gestated there for a couple of days before boarding the birth train, riding it through a long, narrow tunnel surrounded by water, and finally emerging into a world of strange people and strange places, welcomed only by a couple of people who’s voices I had heard muffled in emails over the past several months. I was confused, hungry, and worn out.
Tuesday was tough. Monday, the day of my arrival in Paris, went by so quickly I hardly had time to catch my breath let alone feel anything. Tuesday, on the other hand, I felt as if the nurse had taken me from the loving arms of my mother and left me to fend for myself in the nursery ward with all the other kids. I spent the day wandering around the city, exploring streets and shops and trying to figure out what a grocery store looks like in French and where I could use the restroom. I couldn’t speak to anyone save a few goo-goo ga-gas of “hello” and “excuse me” (“Bonjour” et “Perdon”), and I had nowhere to sit and rest save a random park bench with other homeless people or on the ground in a people-heavy park. I also couldn’t find free wifi anywhere, so I wasn’t even able to communicate with anyone in Paris that I knew. Tuesday was so hard, I bailed out an hour earlier than I planned, hopped a train back to Chateau Thierry, bathed, and went to bed.
Wednesday was better. Wednesday was so much better I’m still smiling as I write this at the end of the day. If Tuesday was being ripped from my mother’s arms and left to cry in a plastic tub under florescent lights, Wednesday was being wrapped in a warm blanket and placed back in her arms where she whispered to me that she would never let me go.
Nurture is what I needed. I needed a base of operations for my exploratory jaunts around Paris. I needed wifi and a toilet and tap water. I needed a hub, a point of reference, “a place where everybody knows my name.” I needed a home, and on Wednesday I got one, and it looks like this:
Francisco, my practicum mentor, gave me a key to the office of La Pave d’Orsey. I can go there to rest, to work, to access email, to update this blog, to Skype, to refill my water bottle, to relieve myself. I can go there to be. And no one will try to sell me an Eiffel Tower key chain or include me by proximity in their make-out session.
A child needs a home, a place of love and support where they are allowed to be themselves and make a mess and be without worrying if they are intruding on anyone else’s space. I am a child, a newborn in this culture, and if I was going to grow and develop and learn and begin to fit in during my temporary Parisian incarnation, I needed a safe place to call home in the day to day of my life.
And then someone gave me a key to the front door.
Now, if I could only learn to talk…
Gene Kelly Was Here
These blog posts were all written in the summer of 2011. They chronicle my time in Paris completing an internship as part of my studies at Fuller Seminary. I worked at an art gallery run by missionary-artists ministering to other Parisian artists and got to know the missionary-artists working there.
I am including them here for you to read because I think they work well together as a series. I wrote them as a kind of narrative collage about what it means to be a practicing artist whose first commitment is to Christ and who seeks to share the love of Christ with other artists.