Existing in Paris
I began writing this post during my first week in Paris...but like most of the personal writing I've done here (shockingly little), it's taken time to finish. I find myself at a loss for words during rare moments of quiet. I think perhaps because the past two and a half weeks have been a flurry of studying French, speaking French, mastering the Metro, trying to think in French, and surviving in a brand new city - in a brand new country.
Add to that the fact that our schedule has been jam-packed, leaving for little alone time, and I've realized like most dramatic things...you have to let it be. Let it settle inside of you. As Hannah said, sometimes you have to feel it for a while before you can talk about it.
I've only been in Paris three days (has it really only been three? It feels like a week and then at times only a day) and already, already, I have fallen in love.
She has indeed worked her bewitching charm on me, and I am incredibly delighted and thankful that the substantial amount of friends/acquaintances who spoke disparagingly of Paris, who warned of dissolution were utterly, completely, and totally wrong.
I was warned that it was a dirty city, that the people were unfriendly, that the food was horrible, that everything about the city of lights was essentially a disappointment.
I have never been more happy that so many people were wrong.
As one of the characters in the Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris says, "That Paris exists and anyone could choose to live anywhere else in the world will always be a mystery to me."
As someone who has been from the West Coast (San Francisco) to the East Coast (New York), I've seen my fair share of big cities. And while Paris is so far the only major European one I've visited, it puts all others I have seen to shame.
Urban yet ancient, a metropolis yet charming, filled with the sights and hum of modernity (metro stations, street signs, crosswalks, stores) yet overwhelming with Old-World leisure and beauty. I step out my door and wander throughout the city, and everywhere I look is beautiful architecture, wrought iron balconies, bright blooms spilling out of window flower boxes, striped awnings of cafes, cobblestone sidewalks, bakeries on every corner, massive stone churches rising up next to shops and businesses.
This is Paris.
While pastries are a routine part of life, where one walks everywhere, where meals are savored and enjoyed for more than an hour, where style is simple yet effortless, where fresh air is a requirement for all inhabitants of this city, where bicycles are more common than taxis and cars, where ancient history is only a short stroll or ride on le Metro away.