I had been in Cannes for a month without a home.
That sounds dramatic.
I had the essential–a place to sleep–for which I was grateful, but the two-week AirBnb stay I’d planned had stretched into a month as I waited to move in to my studio. The host, (one of the nicest people I’ve met in France or otherwise), hooked me up with the place, rented out by an acquaintance. When we found out it wouldn’t be ready until mid-November, he graciously agreed to led me stay until that date.
I was comfortable there, but it felt a bit like sharing a hostel, with various people coming and going, bumping elbows in the kitchen and waiting for the bathroom. For the good of everyone, I was ready to get out of there and give the family some privacy before the next AirBnb guest surely showed up.
Last Friday night, my new landlord came to pick me up. She helped me drag my suitcases, several bags of damp laundry, my teaching supplies, and a box of food out to her car. It seemed like a lot and I wondered how I had ever maneuvered it all by myself. I do find that as soon as I unpack, my stuff has a tendency to multiply exponentially.
I popped back into the house to grab one last load, the fragile stuff: my carton of eggs, a llama-shaped mug, and a bottle of chilled rosé I propped between my feet. It was then that I apologized, sheepish, for the bazar that was my packing job.
She laughed and told me not to worry: she remembered being in my shoes.
But she was concerned: “aren’t you cold?”
I was wearing shorts and sandals. It was fifty degrees and raining. But I’d spent the day cleaning and packing, and anyway, I was nothing but relieved.
It had been weeks since I’d seen my new place, and that was only a glimpse, but it didn’t really matter what it looked like. I was looking forward to the solitude: my first time ever living completely alone. Long showers. My own kitchen. Phone calls late into the night. I wanted to fill the fridge with kale and cover the countertops with fresh fruit and buy a bouquet of flowers every week, especially during the winter.
We dragged my luggage up the stairs and into my new chez moi. Wood furniture, floor-to-ceiling wardrobe, a comfy bed, and a cheerfully-tiled kitchen with all the necessities.
The landlord pointed out a small window in the bathroom. It overlooked the adjoining roof.
“You’ll want to remember to close this,” she said.
Gravely she warned me that I could come home to cats in my room. Apparently there exists a neighborhood gang of furry friends that lack respect for personal property.
All technicalities taken care of, the first thing I did was FaceTime my mom for a tour. The second thing I did was organize my closet, finally assigning coats and dresses a permanent space: a luxury.
The next morning, I awoke to soft sunlight streaming through the windows. I opened them and could hear Disneyish birdsong. The sun lit up the cozy whites and browns of the studio but even better was the view, which I hadn’t yet seen. There was the Mediterranean. Just glimpses, but enough to tell. It glittered silver under the sun, framed by the magenta bougainvillea climbing around the shutters.
It felt good to be home.