Dudface got an idea. “Hayden and I are going to N.Y.U in Paris for the summer.”
“Hayden, you can’t go to Paris without me! And where is Dudface getting the money from?”
“He’s taking out a student loan for five grand. You should come too!” So I took out my first student loan. I was lucky then; my parents paid for college.
“We’re not going to stay in a dorm,” Hayden said. So there we were, heading off to Paris for three months with no where to stay. At nineteen, we were being adventurous, anti-bourgeois–not incredibly stupid.
With my beginner’s French, I tried to explain to the cab driver where we were going.”Enn Egret oooh a Paris” I kept saying, to no avail. I handed him a paper with an address.
The first night we stayed in a grand luxury hotel on the Rue de Rivoli. Our room was trimmed in gold. While I ate the free croissants and coffee, Hayden went out in search of a paper.
“I found this American paper for ex-pats,” he said.”And there’s a house we can rent in Poissy.” We didn’t know where Poissy was. We called the number, and an American woman answered in English. It turned out she had gone to Cornell, too. Her house was a forty minute train ride from Paris. She had never bothered to learn French, though she had lived there for many years.
The house didn’t look especially French, though it was made of stucco, but without details or charm. When we arrived and went into the kitchen, we were appalled. This was the dirtiest kitchen I had ever seen in my life–she lived here with her family in filth and never cleaned the kitchen at all. The stove and counter tops were encrusted with grease, rotting food, dust, stains. The pots and pans had never been cleaned. We gave her rent money, then couldn’t help ourselves, and started to clean the kitchen in front of them with brillo pads.
“Oh, you’re just like my mother, clean freaks.” She said. ” Oh, there’s one more thing–our cat is pregnant.”
“When is she due?” I asked.
“But we won’t be here then. We have plane tickets for mid-August.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it.” What did that mean? We were going to leave a cat and her kittens behind? This felt like the worst ending to Breakfast in Tiffany’s, if Cat had been thrown out of the cab and left to his own. I still don’t know what happened to that cat and her kittens, and it haunts me.