A day in the life of Caleb Codding
Art History Major, Reed College, Fall 2016
I wanted to begin my “Day in the Life” with a sweeping tour of the Centre Pompidou, several classes, a stop at a boulangerie for lunch, with a macaroon sandwiched somewhere in between it all. But if I’m totally honest, I’m a bit of a homebody, even in France. And my typical day, though it was always more magnificent than I could possibly have imagined, hardly ever sounded as ambitious as any travel blog.
That being said, a great deal of my inclination to stay home, nestled on the border between Paris and Malakoff, sprang from my love for my host family, and my need to find some serious alone time amidst Paris’ hustle and bustle. Though it was hardly grandiose, I have to admit that I loved every second of it. Paris, like many of your home universities, can give as much or as little as you are comfortable taking.
Despite feeling sometimes like I was not taking full advantage of every opportunity, heck, did I learn some stuff! I decided to opt for a lighter course load in favor of “experiential learning”. I explored zine fests to try and gain a deeper understanding of the feminist and queer movements in France. I sought out magazine clippings and academic texts that proposed a new approach to gender in French grammar. I connected with French folks to try and understand the intersections of sexism in France and in the States — after all, what better way to combat sexism than to face it from different angles, to take into account the priorities of feminists across both time and space?
I do not want to write about just one day in my Parisian life because even that would take ages, with every moment stretched out like they were for me. I do want to convey just how meaningful those moments were to me, how much I felt loved and at home with my host family, how awkward-yet-welcome I felt talking with my French peers before my Russian class began, how amazing it felt to go to art openings and meet insiders of the Parisian art world over wine. Yes, even a homebody could do all that, and so much more.
So, instead, here are a handful of fragments from Four Months in the Life. I don’t want to tell you that every moment in Paris was perfect, because I was still human. But, if it makes any difference, I believe that my reticence to applaud Paris as flawless speaks volumes in and of itself — because I want to go back, because I still smiled when I was on the métro just seeing all the faces around me and feeling like a part of something bigger, a history that spans centuries and that somehow managed to carve out a few decades for me. Paris is just as much a story as it is a city, and in both senses it is a capacious one. It could use a few new stories.