Paris Graffiti

I never wrote in my books before college. I had a pretty sacred point of view on anything that had both an author and a spine and I remember thinking that I could never mark up something as holy as The Catcher in the Rye. I also didn't drink beer back then. Things change.

Much like any habit, I started slowly, making small asterisks in the margins or underlining key words. I can now compete with the best of the crack-addict-book-markers out there. I can't read anything without writing what I think next to it, how it connects to other things I've read, marking "ha!" when something strikes me as hilarious. These markings aren't just to help me think functionally about whatever I'm reading, but they serve as photographs to jive my memory when I come back to a book months later. My copy of Dubliners is majorly tattooed from a Rosenwasser class and Milton's Paradise Lost looks like a black pen took itself to therapy within its pages.

Most books remind me of places as well. I remember reading Siddhartha for the first time on a trip to San Francisco. A Farewell to Arms reminds me of the year I spent in Clermont-Ferrand. And Marguerite Duras' The Lover will always carry the image of a conference room in Moyer Hall, where I re-read it at least 5 times while writing a final paper.

Today I realized that I've been marking Paris too. I'm not running around with a can of spray paint, but I've now lived here long enough that metro stops mean something. Bourse means teaching English, Censier-Daubenton means French education and Brochant means my friend Blythe.

Paris is a big enough place that it takes you a good couple of months to start making real memories, to start feeling like it's really your city. And I feel really lucky to have these images, to know that one day someone will ask me what Paris is like and I will really be able to answer. Because somewhere between reading Proust, living 5 flights up and somehow always taking metro 14 in the wrong direction, Paris has become home.

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