When I first arrived at the Eurocentre, the French language school a minutes walk from the apartment, I knew it was going to be fun. The class was made up of Portuguese, Spanish and English speakers and our Prof, Laura, was a force to be reckoned with who would make a noise like a tiger when we spoke in a tongue other than francais- ‘c’est une langue bizarre, nous parlons francais, ici,’ (we speak French here). The class was full of laughter (always) and in just ten short days, I have made some really special acquaintances.
Adriano and Celana are a couple from Brazil who sit together- always. The love they quite clearly have for each other is inspirational – the type of love that you just know could never be broken.
Maya, a very beautiful Korean/Hawaiian girl, full of energy and making a life here in Paris with her new Parisian love- used recently learnt, but beautifully developing French to describe stories from her childhood and her life in Paris and beyond.
Arrate, Spanish, 24 years old and full of determination, has been posted to Paris for three months by her employer in Spain and is the type of person I just know will go a long way in life.
Nicole, fresh faced and uber stylish arrived this week from Colombia to study accelerated French before going on to study her masters in Paris, the same as Carole another beauty, who hails from Brazil and who has been at the Eurocentre since November.
Luca is also Brazilian, just like Marco- both young guys with the world at their feet and a desire to speak French, something they both (like all of the others) do so well.
Then there is Ana Marie- the quietest of the group but easily one of the most mysterious and kind people I’ve met. I don’t know too much about Ana, but she made me laugh every day with her random and hilarious little ditties that came from seemingly nowhere.
And finally, Candela and Jose, 18 and from Uruguay- both willowy little beauties who have not just the innocence of being so young, but a beautiful friendship that has brought them to Paris to learn French together. The broad and endless smiles on both those faces and their energy so fresh, has been contagious- in their presence I’ve had no choice but to smile. Saying goodbye to these two today, and the rest of the group at varying points throughout the day, has left me with a feeling of emptiness- but you never can plan goodbyes.
This afternoon after our final class where Laura led us through more conjugations of verbs and provided much hilarity (she is really quite funny), Adriano and Celana led the group to a petit cafe in Rue Jean de Beauvais where we had the most enjoyable lunch filled with Spanish, French, English and Portuguese banter. Thank you both for organising this- I am so happy that we got to spend a final hour together (sans Luca and Marco, but there will always be next time).
At the end of lunch, Candela and Jose announced that they wanted to go to Pere Lachaise- the beautiful, huge, and rambling cemetery in the north east of Paris where the likes of Edith Piaf, Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison are buried, ‘I’ll come,’ I said- (it has been a long time since 1998, when I first and last went there), ‘me too’ said Arrate and Nicole in unison, and with that, we set off on the Metro to find the resting place of some formidable and very talented people, who form a part of who we are today and whose legacies have made the world a far more enjoyable place.
On the Metro, sardined between heaving bodies, we spoke about love, broken hearts, the fears we are all faced with in life and the fact that no matter what, you can never plan for anything- you need to just live and make sure you live really well. Admittedly, once in the cemetery, we spent a lot of time stifling giggles as we tried to find Jim Morrison- Candela and me promising that Jim was around each corner, and Edith not far from him and Oscar not far from her. We eventually found Jim as the sun began to fall behind the clouds and crows made a feast on breadcrumbs and wilting flowers.
Down one of the many paths that we thought would lead to Jim (or Oscar, or Edith), we were stopped in our tracks when one of the girls said quietly, ‘that is so sad, she was so young’.
Suzon , 21 years old and as fresh faced as the company I kept in that very moment, was beautiful- really beautiful. I can only imagine she lived a completely happy life, and by looking at her smile in the many photos that adorned her grave (all of which suggested a life so free), I could only concur that maybe she surely would too have carried the same concerns, you know, the ones that bother us in our every day. But the one thing that struck my heart the most, was a large shell (sitting amongst a small collection of flowers and some Christmas holly), filled with metro tickets- a sign that she is greatly missed and frequently visited. We all added ours quietly and concluded that she was so innocent and so young- she represented more than just youth and freedom – she was all of us.
Suzon went to the Bataclan on November 13th, 2015 and her family and friends never got to say goodbye.
In a cemetery filled with so many big names – names we had all spent hours on google maps turning circles trying to locate – Suzon is one that I’ll never forget.
Vous êtes libre, vous êtes jeune, vous êtes aimé.