Paris Part II: Nouveau Yeux

Honestly, that may not even be the correct translation, but I'm trying to tell you that I was looking at Paris with "new eyes". At least that is what Duolingo told me...I think.

I was given a cold reception by the city, as the cool mist in the air shook any hints of jet-lag off of me. With a wariness leftover from feeling like a country kid in the big city, I sat on the metro and tried to make as many observations as I could. Perhaps to little avail, I make an effort to weave into the fabric of the city. My first attempt was a failure, as I stood blankly in front of the train doors waiting for them to open, until a pleasant young woman smiled and pushed the button. With an mechanical click that seemed to be derisively directed towards me, the doors opened allowing me in the train. A few moments later, that same pleasant young woman was walking down the aisles, asking for money. Despite her earlier door pleasantries, my hardened NYC heart took over, and I let her walk by without opening my wallet.

I opted to not spring for the international data plan. I'd like to tell myself I was being an intrepid adventurer, bravely setting forth in a new city without the crutch of Google. Really I was just being cheap, though I began to wonder if it was worth saving the 70 bucks as I walked off the metro. With the help of foresight in the form of map screenshots, I rang the doorbell to the Airbnb,  hoping that if this was the wrong place, the tenant would at least let me use their wifi.


At times, I'm not sure I ever really felt like I knew where I belonged. That's not to say that everyone doesn't feel like that in their youth, but my feeling has persisted a bit longer. Of course, it is said that hindsight is 20/20, but also that time can warp the memory. Sometimes things seem straight forward while you are walking, but then you look back and all you can see you is a maze.


My maze of childhood sometimes consisted of actual corn mazes. It also had tractor rides (our own tractor, an off brand beast called a Belarus) and hay baling. I learned some of the important things, like that square bales were actually pretty easy to maneuver as long as they were properly bound, but you might throw your back out trying to toss a wet bale. My classmates and I were very close. Like brothers. Well, actually we were brothers, and there was only one of them at the time.  

"Oh my God, you were homeschooled? You seem fairly well adjusted. What was that like?"

My usual response is that when you're a kid everything seems normal, because you don't have much room for comparison. And for me it was true. By most average and modern American accounts, I had a strange childhood. Some would say I had an especially strange childhood considering where I've currently ended up. For me though, nothing seemed strange about being a black kid homeschooled by his mother, living in a place with the cartoonish name of Acme, Washington.

With the passing years however, the uniqueness of my youth revealed itself to me. I did not quite relate to people talking about bringing a new pair of Jordan's to school, because I was too busy getting punked by wild coyotes while taking out the trash. So how does a kid who used to butcher chickens barehanded end up practicing law and being a photographer in NYC? Yea, I kind of don't know either.