Paris and Peace sample essay
Serene tried to remember the last time she and her cousin, Tina actually behaved like family, but she had to make a truce with her nonetheless. This truce was her ticket to freedom in a new city, a new country and the action necessary to please her parents. Tina was now her roommate. Selena knew her parents would never have allowed her to study Philosophy in Chicago without a chaperone. Tina fit that role in Serena’s new life, but how could it be new with these old world requirements? Her parents believed that she was irresponsible, always allowing her taste for life and excitement to cloud her good judgment.
Her mom and dad always wished that she would be more traditional and docile, but she had always defied that logic in her quest for her own female freedom. They were reluctant in sending their only daughter in a land known for its “schmoozing” and adulterous love affairs. Nonetheless, she was allowed to live away in Chicago and spend her summers alone in Lebanon. She was making her own money and felt like an independent American here, as well. Back then she knew that if they had said “no,” to this quest she would still find a way to fund her trip and defy her parents.
Serena was the type of girl, who had a reputation for always winning, but without Tina accompanying her on her first big journey, the family wouldn’t allow her victory to be totally complete. Serene knew all too well that once they arrived in Rome Center, she and Tina would be living separate lives. While Tina would befriend everyone she possibly could, Serena would resolve to make a few good friends to accompany her in her nightly city adventures. She cleared her throat. She really had to say something. “Just so you know,” she began. “You won’t have to check on me every now and then.
Do you understand me? ” “I understand you perfectly,” Tina replied in her usual condescending voice reminiscent of old world values. “This is why we never get along. Don’t worry; I won’t ruin your plans. ” “Trust me, you don’t want to. ” So a truce was made. Months had passed since that conversation. They were both living separate lives indeed. The two would only be seen together in Dr. Mike Silva’s Philosophy 101 class; even then, they sat on opposite sides of the classroom ignoring each other. Being the belated girl that she was, Serene often came late to class.
Serena had always believed in the power of a fashionably late entrance to demonstrate her importance. Although appearing to be the model student, Tina inwardly and occasionally, outwardly, objected to her cousin’s behavior and could not help but be bothered by it. Dr. Silva, otherwise know as Mike to Serene, however, didn’t seem to mind. In fact, he was quite fond of her, in Serena’s mind he believed her to be a perfect model of colonized beauty. After classes, the professor and his protege were always seen having coffee or dinner at Mundelein or at one of the nearby cafes.
At least she had someone to talk to that respected her independence and charm. A short time later, it didn’t come much of a surprise when Mike asked her to accompany him to Paris for the holidays. Although Serene had her own plans to go the World Cup, she agreed, since she could not convince anyone to come with her to Germany and would not contemplate asking her conniving cousin. She knew all about the rumors circulating about her and Mike. They simply were weren’t true. She thought of him only as a friend. She was sure that he thought the same of her.
However, she knew that if these rumors would circulate further, not only would the University reprimand her, but the whole Chicago Arab community would shun both her and her parents for indecent conduct. She had to ask Tina, although she half expected her to decline the offer. That afternoon, she spent hours preparing Tina’s favorite maamoul, a traditional dish from home. She had to make a peace offering. As she handed it to Tina, the her archenemy looked at her incredulously. “Do you intend to poison me or something? ” Tina asked. “Just shut up and eat! ” She watched Tina eat. She knew Tina longed of at least a piece of home unlike her.
She never missed home. “I want you to come with me and Mike to Paris. ” Tina almost choked on one cookie as she heard those words. “Listen, I intend to come back with my virginity and my reputation intact. Besides, those rumors about he and I aren’t true. ” “Ugh! This is worse than poison. ” She said, wiping some sugar on her jeans. “But alright. I’ll go. Why do you want to go there with him anyway? ” Serene turned red with anger, but maybe it was embarrassment. She was sick of everyone asking about her relationship with Mike. “If I have to answer to one more person, you will see me leaving Rome Center tomorrow!
” “Fine! Leave. That would save me a lot of trouble. ” Serene sighed. Tina’s impossible, but at least she agreed. Mike’s office desk was full of clutter. He spent weeks reading the tour books and travel brochures that were scattered on his desk. He thought of throwing them away. He was upset by the message that Serene sent him, excusing herself on the trip to Paris because of several assignments due the week after the holidays. He did not understand that her first refusal was customary of Arabic women, as to not seem so eager to accompany a man on an extended holiday.
But, Serena had fully intended to go. He heard a few knocks on his door. When he opened it, he was surprised to find himself Tina, one of his least favorite student standing there. Tina didn’t waste time. “I had come to ask about the Paris trip agenda, Dr. Silva. I am coming with Serene. ” Mike’s feelings of rejection were replaced with outright fury and confusion. Serene failed to mention that her cousin would accompany them. “Well, I don’t know what you intend on doing in Paris, but Serene and I intend on dedicating an entire day to the Louvre. Dinner will follow at Fouquet’s.
Day Two, we will go up the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. After that, we will spend more time looking at paintings in Musee D’Orsay. Going to the Hotel Invalides is optional. We might try taking the train to Versailles on day three if nothing unfortunate happens. ” He memorized the itinerary well, but he didn’t imagine reciting it to this girl. “I am not quite sure what you had intended on doing in Paris or why you came for that matter, but I respect any decision of Serene’s. ” Tina didn’t know how to react. This man was disappointed that she was coming, and he made no effort to hide it.
“Serene feels uncomfortable traveling to a new place alone. ” It was a lie. Serene was used to traveling alone. Her attempts at initial rejection were in part customary (though she would never admit it) and similarly to avoid intensifying rumors that could destroy her family and send her packing back home. He was doubtful of Tina‘s revelation, but he decided to let that pass. “Alright then, Paris can be a dangerous place. Just make sure that you can watch yourself, Ms. Maalouf. ” With that, he slammed the door to her face. “The only person, who I have to watch out for, is you!
” She mastered all her self-control so that she wouldn’t say that out loud. It seemed Tina was more intuitive than her cousin would realize. They all arrived in Paris via the Artesia Night train. After checking in their hotel, Serene and Tina prepared to go shopping on Champs Elysees. They decided not to ask Mike, or as Tina referred to him, Dr. Silva, thinking that he would prefer to spend the morning in his bed. They were wrong. Both girls saw him on the downstairs foyer pressuring the receptionist to give him a conjoining room with the girls.
His face looked crumpled with disappointment and irritation, but when he saw them, he forcibly flashed a smile. “Girls, were you planning on leaving without me? ” he asked half-jokingly. Tina noted that he was obviously annoyed. Serene noticed it too. “No, we just figured to do some serious shopping, something you might not be interested in. ” She never saw this side of him before. It disappointed her. “No, I am coming with you,” Mike insisted. Serena felt obligated to pacify the professor. “Ok then. But I’m afraid it will bore you. Louis Vuitton has nothing to do with history or philosophy.
” She continued to downplay his disdain and provided jokes and forced laughter to keep the trip from falling short of her dreamy expectations. Tina remained silent. Perhaps no one will ever know of whatever violent thing she thought of doing to Mike at that moment. Mike was furious. They spent the whole morning shopping along the famous two-kilometer-long avenue. The girls were ready to see the Eiffel Tower next. His plans with Serene were ruined. Tina was to blame. “The Eiffel Tower is better seen at daytime than at sunset,” he said in his matter-of-fact voice. “We should wait for tomorrow. ”
“We have only three days in Paris. ” Serene replied. “If we are to spend all day tomorrow at the Louvre, I do not think we will have time to see the Eiffel Tower tomorrow morning. ” “You’re right, Serene,” Tina agreed with her for the first time. At that point, Mike lost his patience. “Your opinion does not matter. ” Serene was stunned at Mike’s rude behavior to her cousin. “How dare you speak to her that way?! ” Tina was still family although she never got along with her. Mike realized his mistake. He was worried that his comments would prevent Serene from wanting to spend any time alone with him.
“I’m sorry. I think I just didn’t have enough sleep. ” That was a petty excuse. He knew it. Tina knew it and Serene was beginning to realize that Mike was behaving like a spoiled child. “That is exactly why we choose not call you, but I accept your apology nonetheless. ” “Serene, I am sorry, I did not mean to-” “The one you should be apologizing to is Tina. ” “Tina, I am sorry. ” Tina shrugged. “Don’t worry. My opinion doesn’t matter anyway. ” She decided to do the unthinkable: she would leave Serene and Mike to themselves. Despite Mike’s earlier protests, the pair visited the Eiffel Tower.
The view on the Tower’s top floor was truly breathtaking. Serene was awed by the sight of all of Paris glistening beneath her, spreading across to the horizon. No words could completely describe what she saw. No single picture could capture that moment. It was just as she had imagined it, her in all her beauty surrounded by more beauty and her companion, a man who appreciated not only her beauty, but her intellect. Paris was alive. Several times, she had to remind herself that it was real. Mike interrupted her thoughts. He made several comments on the tower’s architecture, its history and its heritage to Paris.
She listened intently. He was truly her professor. At that moment, Serene forgot the irritation that he caused her that day. She was grateful to him for taking her to Paris. Without warning, he suddenly kissed her. Serene out of pure reflex, slapped him on the face. “What are you doing?! ” She yelled, astonished, and unaffected by the other travelers around them. “Doing what one must do in Paris. C’mon Serene, you cannot be blind to this. ” “There has to be some mistake. I saw you only as a professor and a friend, nothing more. I should have listened to Tina. I’m sorry sir.
I cannot do what you ask of me. ” “So I risked my reputation, my career, just so you can be better friends with that Tina?! ” “Tina is one of the best people I have known in the entire world. She’s kind to everyone, even me, her enemy. She may not know it, but I have come to admire her. You cannot measure up to who she is to me. ” She paused. She couldn’t believe that she just defended Tina against him. “Please, do not follow me. ” She turned to walk away. Mike growled and cursed her. “Don’t you walk away from me! ” He grabbed her arm. Serene clenched her fist.
Her punch went straight in his eye, knocking him to the ground. “I told you not to follow me! ” With that, she walked away. Several tourists rolled their heads toward them. The scene was ironically amusing if not romantic. One Korean man even took a video of them in his phone. Serene didn’t care. She was glad to be rid of him. Tina waited at La Jules Verne. She pondered if she had decided right in leaving Serene alone with the monster. A few moments later, her doubts vanished. She was surprised to see Serene back early without Mike. “Where’s Mike? ” she asked.
Serene sat down. She turned away to the window. “I don’t know of any Mike. I simply know a Dr. Silva. He is taking his holiday in Paris as well. We might run into him, but I don’t think will, ever again. ” Tina whistled. She realized that Serene had given him a beating worse than she expected. She wanted to congratulate her cousin. “I hope he won’t flunk the both of us. ” With that both girls erupted into a heartfelt laughter that they had shared in a very long time. “Well, I have decided to drop his class anyway, if you are going to do it with me. How does that sound? ”
Tina agreed, sealing the pact with a handshake. At last, they had agreed on something. “You are such a bad influence. ” As one relationship came to an end, another presented itself. Paris was a place for romantic love, but the familial love that Serene found again was just as beautiful. She didn’t need Mike’s Philosophy class to understand that. They would carry out the remainder of the Paris trip rekindling their cousinly relationship. They avoided a disheveled Dr. Silva, who they would see frequently muttering to himself or starting a confrontation with the hotel staff.
The pair would scamper out of the place with concealed glee and burst into gales of laughter on the Paris street. They didn’t speak of the past misunderstandings they had shares, but instead intuitively knew what had happened there. Serene represented the new world, full of ambiguity and questions. Tina represented the old world with all her wisdom and answers. Together the could navigate through the fog of friendships and loves, enemies and the “Mikes” of the world. Tina was no longer a chaperone in Serena’s eyes, she was an advisor.