19

Sep

My stay at Josefa

Houses, like people, have their own smell and music. It’s only while staying in a house that, as the days go by, one has the opportunity to discover them

The Josefa House is made up of rhythms, staircases, landings, thresholds and doors. Its layout is a good workout for the lungs. I decided to spend a week in this house so as to catch my breath.

I left a main floor room off a street full of children playing, the noises of cars and of neighbours calling out to one another from one window to another, and moved into a room looking onto a garden full of singing birds. From the blue lounge to my room, from the garden to the common kitchen, the house weaved around me a shelter of silence that was pierced, from time to time, by sounds of footsteps in the staircase, a door closing, the laughter of a girl, the rustle of a conversation. It was like I was on hold.

Moreover, I was so imbued by the community life I shared that this sudden solitude made me uneasy the first day. I would listen to the goings on in the house. I tried to fit in. It took me some time before I bonded with others. "Hello" "hello": we would cross one another in the staircase, a little intimidated… then sipped tea and ate small Syrian cakes together in the garden, exchanged some words about the cat, had supper just us women from the four corners of Europe and chatted about men and Iraq, its history and its culture.

The kitchen is the heart of many homes. The Josefa House is no exception. The shared kitchen smelled of rice and spices. A meal would be whipped up on the spot: "I have lentils", "And I have a carrot and a leek"; we would throw everything in the pot and hope for the best. "It’s good!"

This short stay at the Josefa House was an experience where learning to live is like learning to cook: welcoming what is given and letting it transform us; thanks to everyone for this week. Maybe there will be another one.

Valérie

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