Finally, today I catch the accountant. I am hoping for good news. Something like: “your debt is covered by the shows you did,”’ or “your debt is almost covered.” To expect some money left over is too optimistic, but I cannot lie, I had that hope for a second in my head, even though my rationality erased the thought right away. But what did happen is like a cold shower. Listen to this:
Less than half of my debt is paid off!
The room is spinning; I have to sit down. I am looking at the statement and calculating the gross, then expenses, then the agency commission; but there is a big gap between my calculation and theirs.
How is that possible?!? It is very possible: models take 33 percent out of the sum that the client is paying. Twenty percent goes to the agency as commission, and the rest is tax! TAX!!!!!
I will never make any money here! What is the point of doing any modeling here then?
My booker says I will start to make money after some time!
How long is that “some time”?
Well, it depends from girl to girl.
So, how long will it take for me to get to positive zero?
Around one year if you are lucky!
I think I will look for my luck somewhere else. I use the agency phone to call my mother agency to tell them that is time for me to go somewhere where I will make cash! it is time to get documents for another destination. I have no interest in wasting my time here for fame or who knows what.
You cannot eat fame. A paper page with my photo on it, out of some magazine, cannot pay for rent, or a plane ticket, or dinner. I want papers with worth. Like money paper. Nothing but that. Period.
Tomorrow I have a free day. Great, I have to think about whether all this has a point or not, if I cannot make money!
NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL or WHAT WAS THAT?!
All day I am killing my head with questions while walking the streets. It is very cold, but somehow the cold is not bothering me today. I have come to a decision to go somewhere where you, not just a government, get something out of your work. Then I will decide if I will stay in modeling. But one thing is sure: Paris is not going to see me for a while.
After spending all day walking around Paris, I am expecting to have a cozy evening with my book in my bed. Panic is taking me over, because it is my last book; I will have nothing to read tomorrow. I will take a warm shower and clear my vocal cords. I have not talked much today. Let me remind myself of my own voice.
I perform my usual playlist while showering. Just as I exit the bathroom ceremonially, ready to perform my last song in front of the mirror, I see someone sitting on the other bed. Believe it or not, it is my roommate! She was so kind to come tonight out of all nights in the year. Tonight, great timing to see and HEAR my shame. It is not wrong to meet finally; it is good to see with whom I am sharing the rent. But why now?
My face is flashing red like a stoplight. No, no it is not embarrassing at all. O my God open this ground here so I can fall in and bury myself with my own hands.
“The song sounds great in your interpretation, even though I don’t understand a word,” she lies without a blink.
“I am not sure of that, but we will not argue about taste differences. Ines,” I say, lending her my half-wet hand.
“Ana.” She keeps my hand little bit longer than is usual, so the drops from my hair leave traces on her bed.
I run to the bathroom after this official meeting to get back to decency. It has been enough shame for today.
During the evening we chat. I find out some details about the agency and the bookers: who speaks a lot but works not so much, who gives good criticism, who books the most, who likes to hide some job details like underwear shooting. I now have very useful information. Ana’s three years of experience are paying off for me, too. She says the agencies are more or less the same. It is important that the booker loves you! She says it’s hard to prove that agencies are stealing from models, because we don’t see receipts from things charged to us. You can fight about bills, but there is little chance you will win. And yes, she says it is very hard to make money in Paris. The girls are usually around positive zero and that is success.
She says a lot of other things about Paris and modeling. Nice of her. This is my first talk with a colleague longer than 10 minutes. Maybe we can be friends. It would be nice. No one can replace Nina, but it would be nice to have a friend in Paris. She would be my first foreign friend.
Blah blah blah and the evening is gone. At 11 I decide to go to sleep. I am just ready to lie down when roomie, like she heard my thinking about friendship, gets up from her bed.
“I am happy that we are getting along. I have not been so lucky with roommates. Girls can be very bad. Can I hug you?”
It is strange to me to have that kind of emotional moment after a few hours of chatting, but it is not nice to refuse.
“Of course,” I agree. If we want to be friends, it is not a big sacrifice. It is just a hug.
She kneels down on my bed and looks into my eyes. I don’t feel comfortable, but I move closer to her to give her a hug. She has something else on her mind. With no hesitation she kisses me on my lips. If I don’t push her away, it could be a French kiss instead of a movie kiss.
I am shocked at what just happened. I just stare at her.
“I am sorry,” she says.” I don’t know what is wrong with me, but I really liked you when I saw you ashamed when you got out of the bathroom. I could not resist. I know I should give you more time to get to know me to start to like me. Sorry.”
Wait wait. I am not sure I got that right.
“You should give me more time for what?”
“To like me, to charm you. We could be a beautiful couple”
“But I am not a lesbian, what couple?”
“Maybe I could find that in you.”
“I am sorry, but I am sure I don’t have that in me!” I start putting my clothes on over my pajamas, while the steam is coming out of my ears.
“Listen now: I am going outside to clear my head, but it would be better if you are not here when I come back. Only for tonight. I will ask to move to another apartment tomorrow.”
I slam the door. I knock it out of the frame for sure.
Maybe my reaction is not right, but I am 16 years old and a situation like this is very strange to me.
I walk nine circles around the block. Then I sit on a bench to plan a talk for tomorrow at the agency. Is it smart to tell everything or not?
What am I going to do if I go back to the apartment and she is still there? I have nowhere to go. I will sleep on the bench here. I will take a blanket. It is just across the street from the entrance; if anyone attacks me, I will scream and the doorman will hear me. I cannot sleep in the previous models’ flat, in the pig house. It is Thursday and their cleaning lady is coming tomorrow. Who knows what the apartment looks like tonight?
What a spin at the end of the day. It could happen only to me. I think I will ask to go home for a week or two. Yes. I think that is a smart idea.
When I get back to the apartment, she is not there. Luck in the misfortune. But I hardly sleep.
In the agency, I am not specific about my reasons. But I say I have to go for my exams and I need them to reserve my ticket for tomorrow. I know it will cost me an arm and a leg, but I have to go. I am on the edge of exploding. It is too many things to bear all together.
Bye Paris, see you soon! Maybe!