This morning I woke up, and I was in Paris! And more important, I was finally going to church this morning!
Never mind that I got to bed at 3am and I woke up at 6h30. I was going to eat a croissant for breakfast again and I was going to eat with my new friend/roommate Alison I was going to church this morning!
"The Church is the same wherever you are," they say. I was hoping so. I wanted something familiar.
I ate breakfast with Alison, the girl from Illinois who is also staying here in this room, who just spent a month in Spain and told me all about it, the girl who is studying foreign languages and music teaching at her university in Eastern Illinois—mais punaises, did I just meet her yesterday? Yesterday, when I came home humbled and exhausted? What a life this is.
So we ate breakfast down in the cafeteria, and I ate a croissant, and I hoped I wouldn’t die. We talked in French and I got to know her and it was good.
I brushed my teeth and accidentally brushed the part where I had had my gum surgery, and I looked at it and saw how massive the gauge must have been on that needle, I didn’t want to ruin it, and that worried me.
And then, finally, I got to go to church!! I was really excited about this!
At this point, I still hadn’t figured out how to use the metro, so I walked up the Rue Saint-Jacques in the morning before life in Paris was really starting, on a Sunday no less—it was quiet, and the light was beautiful, and I took pictures of everything, and people looked at me funny.
It was kinda funny—when I first left my hotel this morning, it was like the wonder had fallen out of it a bit, the fact that I live in Paris—maybe it’s because the hotel is by some buildings that look like they could be from any crappy city, but it’s okay, because once I got up the Rue Saint-Jacques, I saw all those Haussman buildings again, and everything was beautiful, and everything was okay.
I just like exploring here. Everything is history here. There are old churches and monasteries and hospitals everywhere. There are signs of the Histoire de Paris that tell me everything I need to know about a place. They are in French and not in English, which makes them feel like they’re not for the tourists anyway—they are for the Parisians, who deserve to know everything about their beautiful city that they couldn’t already know.
(Mais punaises, can you imagine actually living here! Growing up here, spending every day—here!)
There are signs here for soldiers that fell for the liberation of Paris. There are signs that mark the bullet holes in the walls.
There are old gray gothic churches with long and skinny gargoyles reaching from the eaves across the street from pale golden stone courtyards with a statue of a saint I do not know but that I took a picture of anyway.
This was my walk to church this morning. I passed the Panthéon, saw the café I had eaten the night before, saw a crêperie where I decided that I would go for lunch.
I walked through Ile de la Cité. I saw all the tourists. I could see the difference between all the tourists and the French people. I did not like them.
I kept walking past Ile de la Cité. I followed my Google Map. I was looking for the church.
It was right by the Centre Pompidou, colorful tubes that I have heard about, down a side street that seemed dirty and sketchy and I thought that this couldn’t be the place, but the beautiful black sign on the pale building said L’Eglise de Jésus-Christ des Saints des Derniers Jours, so I slunk through the entry and tried to find the people and went in.
The church building is an old hôtel de ville, where a rich family used to live, and there are lots of rooms around a central courtyard full of cars. I went inside, was told by the sister missionaries which room would have sacrament meeting in English and which would have it in French, went into the French one, and…who should I see but my French professor.
Professeur Yvon LeBras, à Paris, à l’église! He’s been my professor for two semesters, and the one who is in charge of this internship, so I sat by him and I thought that was pretty cool.
I thought church in French was pretty cool. It started late, it ended late, everything about it was late, but ça va, who cares. People came in slowly, most of them visitors or étrangers, very few white French people are Mormons—the bishop and the first counselor are Americans, and the second counselor is African. But it was cool, it was good, a French girl who looked Indian gave a talk, and so did the bishop. "It's very cosmopolitan," Yvon LeBras said. A lot of people had headsets. A missionary was in the other room, doing a live translation. We sang the hymns too slowly. I wondered how the investigators next to the missionary next to me were doing.
I met the other young adults. A guy named Théo gave me my first bise. I went upstairs to the Sunday school class and wished I had a French Bible and a girl named Flora gave the lesson and she talked really fast and it was frustrating and I wondered if that was how fast I talk in English.
I went to Relief Society. It was good! They had people who were staying for a little bit get up and introduce themselves. So I did, I smiled, I talked loud. “Bonjour, je m’appelle Camilla, ch’uis américaine, ch’uis étudiante à BYU, je suis ici jusqu’à la fin d’août."
“Et tu parles bien français!” the Relief Society president said.
And the lesson was good, a sister missionary taught it on the fly because Flora was supposed to teach it and she had disappeared. It was about Jorg Klebignat’s talk, that I had seen in person, and the missionary seemed very American, but she really tried, even though she never could get the subjonctif.
J'étais bien édifiée à l'église. It was a three-hour block where I just felt good about everything.
When I left church, I didn't want to leave. Because I felt so good there. I wanted to stay, to serve, to get to know people. But I had no reason that I would stay. Anna told me about FHE, invited me. I said I would try to go, and I sure do want to. I wanted to stay in church, with the good feeling in me.
But with the rest of the day, I really didn't know what to do.
I bought a crepe and a galette at that crepe shop. I wish I had gotten the one with real apples and ice cream instead of the applesauce.
I walked and my feet were aching. I went to the Jardin de Luxembourg, like I had been planning to, like Prof. Lebras said.
It was more interesting than I thought it would be. A palace, a grotte. Sailboats on the fountain pond. People on the benches, in the chairs beneath the planted trees. No people on the grass.
I sat there and read my scriptures and looked at things and almost fell asleep. I thought about all those things I wrote about yesterday.
It was hot. I walked home. I did not know my feet could hurt so badly.
Alison was collapsed in her bed, asleep, and I did the same and collapsed on mine and slept until three hours later.
Alison and I went to dinner. It was cool, it was good. She taught me how to use the metro. She's from Chicago—she knows how. I didn't know how. My feet hurt so badly. I wore my new light blue shoes.
We ended up near the Tour Montparnasse, near where I'm going to be living soon. I didn't like it so much. I don't like cities that are gross and look like cities. I like Haussmannisation.
We wandered around a bit. Looked at restaurants. Poked around an épicerie. She told me stories about Spain. I thought it was amazing that I didn't know her yesterday.
We ate at a pizza place. We split a calzone with ham and egg and cheese. They charged us 2E to split it. I thought that was absurd.
I ate wheat. I hoped I wouldn't die.
I was tired. I didn't feel like dealing with waiting around forever in restaurants. Waiting around in restaurants trying to figure out how to pay is kinda exhausting.
I came home. I wrote and wrote forever and ever.
The wifi was terrible.
I ate wheat and I didn't die.