I met Hope on a bitter cold day in February (I’m pretty sure it was February) in a basement that, despite having just one window, was filled with light. The basement was church, and me being new, I was introduced to anyone who might have something in common with me. Hope, too, is from California.
One of my first observations was that Hope is tall. Two meters/six feet, I would say, and she is generous with hugs. Amongst her other qualities: The brightness (and the tall-ness) of a sunflower; words that dazzle; a bright curiosity; and a joyful spirit.
I always tell people that Hope changed my life. In many ways, I do not exaggerate. Hope is a poet. She is also a photographer. A space-maker. Hope is an artist in every sense of the word, and she taught me how to take ownership of this title that no one need give but that I must claim.
One night, on a stroll back to her flat, we walked half way down the stairs before Hope decided that we should not take the metro. Let’s walk. We turned onto a tiny rue, the kind that makes you feel that you truly are in Paris, and passed by an elegant terrace, cast yellow in the light of the lamps.
I stopped for a picture, content to admire the exterior, but it was Hope who brazenly walked through the front door and introduced us to the concierge. Bonjour monsieur, nous sommes artistes! We are artists, she explained. And we couldn’t help but notice the beauty of your hotel. May we poke around?
My jaw nearly dropped as he welcomed us in, motioning to the sumptuous sitting-room we had seen from the street, proceeding to welcome us to have a look at the 17th-century cave, which is now the breakfast room.
We say our goodbyes, and learn that he, too, is an artist — a professor at Hope’s school, at that. We have an inkling that he invited us in because we — Hope, rather — said we were artists.
I’m thrilled to present these portraits in paris of Hope: An afternoon of adventure, as it always is, walking in history at the Sorbonne; reading books and listening to jazz at Shakespeare & Co; talking our way on to a rooftop overlooking Paris; dancing with light and flowers in Luxembourg. Spontaneous poetry in the streets on a little step stool followed, and you can see the video Hope made here. Ignore my poor cinematography skills (I obviously learned nothing in my media classes) and enjoy words from one of the best poets I know.
Merci mille fois, Hope, for teaching me that to be an artist I only must practice. You have helped me see not what I am, but who I am.