The warmth of the metro brake-heated station hits my face and hands cooled by the November frost. The train just left as I stepped down on the platform, but sitting on the bright orange plastic bench calms my annoyance. “C’est pas grave, j’suis pas pressée”, I think as I watch the people on the other side rush up to the surface to catch their bus.
I reflect on this city’s set of rhythms: above ground and underground, day and night, open and hidden, sophisticated and pedestrian, old and new, rich and poor. Here you can have deux faces, two lives that coexist and enrich each other. I have yet to find somewhere else where I can be a proper, serious student in the day, and the dumbest drunk club girl at night; where I can be a busy socialite and a cocooner in the same week; where I can get good jobs on the sole basis of my bilinguisme and then spend most of my year speaking, writing and reading English. Or where the life of the surface seems to stretch and expand in the few minutes spent herded with strangers in a metro wagon, and then goes back to its fast-paced normality as you step on the weather-beaten sidewalk. When you can be anywhere inside the metro lanes within half an hour, the fifteen minutes of commute always feels longer than it is.
I know it’ll be dark, and cold, and probably snowy when I get back home, but I’ll have gained heat with drinks and friends by then. A random Irish pub on Bishop is my destination tonight, and I do plan on drinking like one. The train now opens its doors in front of me, and I step in the blue car with happy expectations for my evening.