Photography © Shannon O’Connor


The Toilet in the Gare de Lyon, Paris

I didn’t want to go home to my dreary existence and dead-end job, so I locked myself in the toilet with the disco ball in the railway station, Gare de Lyon in Paris.

I was on my way back from a writers’ retreat near Carcassonne, France. I loved being there; I relished staying where I could write in peace and solitude with the view of the shadows of the mountains that shifted with the sun during the day. Every moment was a gift. I knew it would end.

As I took the train to Paris to catch my plane home, I could only think of going back to my mundane life working in the hospital making appointments for people with pacemakers. I endured the pain of sitting in an office with no windows that smelled like whoever was there; if someone had body odor, the whole place stunk, if a woman wore pungent cologne, it reeked.

So I locked myself in the toilet with the disco ball to protest the banality of my existence, in solidarity with other artists, who desire a beautiful world, but don’t have one because their lives are brimming with garbage.

I took selfies with the disco ball and posted them on social media; I told everyone I was living in the toilet, and all I had to subsist on were stale Madeleines and Evian. I broke the lock so nobody could get in. It cost two Euros to use the toilet.

I didn’t want to go home. The police broke down the door three days later, and forced me out. I decided the situation wasn’t worth the trouble. I was arrested, mailed in an envelope, marked Return to America and don’t ever come back.


Shannon O’Connor holds an MFA from Bennington College. She has been published previously in Oddball, as well as other places. She used to be terrified of traveling, but she became a traveler; however, she has not gone anywhere for almost two years.