Ever since I moved to Paris four years ago, I’d been dreading one day — the day the movers would come to pack up our belongings, the day we would have to leave our rambling Parisian apartment. That day came on Monday. Hello from our new apartment. Hello from The Other Side.
I don’t want to dwell too much on the Big Move, but I’m still reeling from the sight of our home of four years stripped bare. The movers worked like a fury — they packed the whole apartment in four hours (I fear for my china) — leaving the rooms looking so small, so scuffed and vulnerable.
After they left for the day, my husband and I went to eat lunch at a neighborhood café, a place where the owners greet us by name, and kiss us hello. And then, we went back to the apartment to collect our bags and bring them to the the new chez nous. We’d called a taxi and it was waiting on the curb with the meter running, so my last glimpse of the place was a rushed blur of heavy suitcases grabbed on the run. I’d planned to go back the next day to help oversee the removal of the packed boxes, but my husband bravely shouldered the unpleasant task alone. In the end, I didn’t even know my final visit was my last, which was kind of the way I wanted it to be.
I’ve loved and left a great number of apartments in my life, but I can’t ever remember feeling so sad to say goodbye to a place. It feels like I’ve broken up with someone. And even though I know it was for the right reasons, reasons beyond our control, if I think about it too much, I still want to burst into tears. I am heartbroken — not deeply, or permanently, or irreparably (it was just a place, after all) — but still, my heart is broken just a little bit. I know it’s silly, but I feel grief for something I’ve lost.
Our new apartment is trying hard to fill the empty space in my heart. But I’m on the rebound. I’m not ready to fall in love, not yet. Still, things like new bedskirts and rattan wastepaper baskets are helping to make this new place feel cozier, more like home. Cooking is helping, too, specifically the pasta I made on Monday night, our first night here in the new apartment. It combined summer courgettes with onions that I sauteed long and hard to drive the new paint smell away from our walls. A handful of parmesan and an egg stirred in at the end made everything creamy. We ate on our new couch, while watching The Good Wife on our new TV. This place will become chez nous, one spaghetti strand at a time.
Spaghetti + onion + courgette
250 grams (1/2 pound) spaghetti
1 onion, quartered and sliced
2 courgettes/zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced into triangles
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper
Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Place a sauté pan over medium-high flame and heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil until it’s hot enough to make the onion sizzle. Add the onion and sauté for a 2-3 minutes until wilted. Add the sliced courgettes, stirring to coat with the oil. Cook for 7-10 minutes, or until the courgettes are soft and faintly golden on the edges. Stir frequently and lower the heat if the vegetables start to stick or brown too quickly. Season.
Meanwhile, add the pasta to the rapidly boiling water and cook for the indicated time on the packet (mine says 8 minutes). Break an egg into a small bowl and beat it with a small handful of Parmesan and healthy dash of black pepper. When the pasta is cooked, fish it out from the water and add it to the pan of courgettes. Toss to combine, adding dashes of pasta cooking water to keep the mixture fluid. Remove from the heat and stir the egg thoroughly through the strands of pasta. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of Parmesan.