People who sit next to me on park benches

Photo by Chela Simón-Trench

Dear Moms is a biweekly column by Chela Simón-Trench (BF ’25) of letters written in a notebook to her moms during a summer abroad in Paris.  

Dear Moms, 

Today ends with a dairy stomachache in a Places des Vosges that smells like fire. Bad air quality always makes for the most beautiful sunsets. 106 degrees in Paris. At 10 p.m., the sun hasn’t even gone down and a thick breeze promises rain.  

My time sitting alone on this bench is interrupted by Two Whole Italian Families. Capital letters for the fact that I once had this whole bench to myself and now I teeter on its edge. Capital letters for the noise as well: “AntOnio vini qui!!! No no AntOnio NO!!!” I’m really not bothered at all. I imagine a bubble around myself as I walk around Paris, as I attend my classes, as I visit museums and parks like this one. With every hour spent alone, my bubble inflates and I get further from the ground, the streets, the people around me. Between me and anything is a cloudy layer of plastic and maybe ten feet of murky air. Like those human-sized plastic hamster balls they sometimes have at state fairs. When little Antonio—the ten-year-old Italian boy—plops down on my bench and steals my ice cream, he pops a bubble that is too big; offers a welcome interruption to my hours and hours and hours spent alone. Plus, the Italian mother’s yelling reminds me of the last time I was at Places des Vosges—ten years old, trying to climb into the fountains, you yelling at me and then buying me an Amorino ice cream that looks like a rose. And I miss you. 

Hiding behind a lamppost to write, my phone is at 4% and I am very far from home. I see my best friend Jackson in the face of a man in a blue shirt. It’s a reminder that I should try to go to the French optician tomorrow and that I am very lonely. 

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