Age: 28 | Location: Paris, France
It’s no secret that Paris is a beautiful city. I spent some time there at the end of last year and fell in love with it a little bit, despite the fact that it rained for almost the entirety of my visit.
I am envious when I learn that The Librarian calls Paris her home, but she tells me that it’s not always an easy place to live for those who aren’t originally Parisian.
‘In France, it’s really hard to make friends. French people, they’re not rude or anything, but they’re very private. So it’s hard to break through that.’
However, with a son born there, she’s now tied to the place.
‘He is a year old. Well, to be technical he is fifteen months old, but I’ve always hated when people do months after a baby is born.’
She doesn’t want any more children - ‘we just want him’ - but still it worries her sometimes that she’s not doing enough for this one that she does have. A week ago it brought her to tears.
‘I was having a hard time balancing work and my son. I was crying to my husband because I felt like I wasn't giving my son everything he needed. Which is a very common mom complaint I think.’
Her pregnancy wasn’t easy either.
‘I had morning sickness until I was like five months pregnant.'
'I actually was doing my master’s degree during my pregnancy. I graduated at seven months pregnant.'
'Then he was born six weeks early. I had pre-eclampsia.’
Pre-eclampsia is a complication. It’s not supposed to happen. It’s a second and third trimester condition which causes high blood pressure and can occasionally be fatal. I think of the people I know struggling through their postgraduate degrees and how much worse it would be for them if they had the risks of pregnancy to worry about too.
Fortunately, all was okay. Now her baby is her pride and joy.
‘It was worth it. Anytime my baby laughs at anything, I laugh, because he’s adorable and it’s hilarious. Everything to him is funny.’
Afterwards, she tells me that it was all due to coincidence that her path crossed with her husband’s in the first place.
‘In high school I took French elective classes and then when I went to university I decided to major in International Relations. You have to take a language and I chose French, obviously, because I’ve always been a hopeless romantic. And I was like, oh, well, French is the romance language, and it’s so different from English.’
‘I did a few study abroad trips to different cities here in France and then I met my now husband while he was studying abroad, in Michigan. And he’s French. We started dating, and we did long distance for two years, and then I graduated in May of 2018 and he asked me to marry him so I moved to France.’
She confides in me that she still finds it terribly endearing when he uses the wrong word in English to describe something. We’re talking over the phone, but I swear I can hear her smiling.
Nevertheless, the path to true love for The Librarian wasn’t easy.
‘My first love was my senior year of high school. We were set up together by two of our friends, so we started dating. Prom was our first date. We went as friends but then we were both interested in each other. That really started it off. We dated for a year and then he cheated on me. So that ended that.’
‘He was just being very shady, and I noticed he was getting a lot of messages on his phone. A lot of Snapchats.'
'Do you remember that time? Snapchat is the worst, oh my god.’
Now, with her little French family, she’s happy. She’s saving up to take her son back to Michigan, because he’s yet to meet all his aunts and uncles and cousins in the States.
‘My husband and I want to go back and bring our son to Michigan. In August, all of France is on vacation, so he and I both have the month off. We want to take our son to visit the other side of his family. He has only met his grandparents and his great grandma.’
In the meantime, being a librarian fills her days. She works Monday to Friday and two Saturdays a month. One night a week she’s responsible for closing at 7pm, so stays late. Then she gets the tram home, which gives her a small window in which to read, since she can hardly read at all during working hours.
I ask her what it is about her job that she enjoys so much.
‘I love being able to exchange with my fellow librarians. We all just geek out over books. And then, I do love being able to recommend the right book to a patron that comes in. It’s awesome if I can say, this book is amazing, and you should read it, and then they come back and they’re like oh my god I loved that book. You feel so accomplished.’
Originally, she had different plans for what she would do.
‘I’ve loved dolphins since I was young enough to remember. I mean, probably like two or three years old. I was born in Michigan but I was raised in California so my parents took my sister and I to Sea World a lot. And the marine mammal trainers were like celebrities to me. Up until university that’s what I wanted to be.’
Instead, she took a masters degree in library science - which before our talk I hadn’t realised was something people did - and became The Librarian.
‘One of the things I do at the library is the old books. By old I mean like the 1500s to 1700s. You have to analyse these books that are often in a fragile state. You have to have special tools to do that. Most of the books that I work with are in Latin or old French, and so I have to read the title page and skim read the contents to be able to adequately catalogue it. It can be very challenging, but that’s why I love it the most. It’s a skill that not every person or librarian has.’
‘When you open them they have a smell, which sounds like a bad thing but it's not. You just like know that this book has been through so many hands, and people from back then have read it and you’re holding it now in 2023.'
'It’s like you can smell the history.’
I’m surprised to learn, right at the end of our chat, that The Librarian owns a kindle. In fact, before bed every night this is what she reads on.
Are kindles not seen as sinful by hardcore book fans, I ask.
‘Oh, I know. It’s such a debate. But honestly I think as a librarian you need to not only accept but celebrate all the forms, all the mediums, of literature. Whether it be audiobooks or ebooks or, I mean, I don’t know, picture books, graphic novels, mangas.'
' I think if you try and gate-keep how somebody should read, it pushes away people who want to.’