Not Your Typical Love Story
Perhaps it’s a little naive, or juvenile, but I think that I have fallen in love with the city. Paris has stolen my heart away, yet I feel at ease for it. Like I have known her my entire life, and we are rediscovering each other again. Or perhaps it is for the first time. Maybe we’re moving into things too fast, rushing it; that Paris and I should slow down because I will be here a long time, and that I’m still euphoric and in the honeymoon stage. It’s a classic hollywood tale of romance. If the city is as wonderful in the spring, as now during the winter, I may never want to go back.
She is absolutely charming, and is a city in the purest sense – the smells, sights, taste, and feel of a city. There is hustle and bustle. One can pick out the tourists from a mile, and every one looks grim. There is such a melting pot of different ethnicities and races, yet there is a uniquely homogeneous “I am a Parisian” feel to the air.
She is at once wholly new and undiscovered yet full of history and half forgotten secrets. Everyone talks of the snow at home; which can be charming for the first day or so – yet I have cobblestone pavements and boulangeries that make anyone’s mouth water. There is so much to do, so much to see, feel, and experience. Take for example, yesterday we went with this group and were able to view much of the city from roller blades. What an experience – imagine 300 people all whizzing by on roller blades of all skating experience as they stop tourists and traffic alike, going all around Paris. There was some mishap, predictably, as one of the wheels fell off, and we had to back track away from the pack to go back to the Roller Blade store where we upgraded the wheels. I of course being terribly out of practice, fell quite spectacularily twice, and thank god for protective padding, otherwise it might’ve been a repeat of what happened to my mother and her broken elbow. I am still feeling it 24 hours later though, and long for a hot tub to work out the aches between my shoulders. I believe next week will prove to be a good physical challenge – for as beautiful as Paris is – 22 km is still 22 km.
The architecture is lavish and fine; Paris puts on all of her best dresses for the tourists. She seduces and winks, beckoning us into her tightly packed winding city roads, and we follow wherever we like, knowing that there is always a metro stop nearby should we collapse on exhausted feet. She is a city of many contradictions, glitzy and glamourous as well as seedy and lived in. Graffiti and gold – I am drinking it in, drunk on the atmosphere that is so unlike D.C.
Yet there is wealth in many places to be seen; evidenced by the amount of cafe’s that have a constant trickle of people despite the hour of the day. There are the classic tourist hot spots: Tour Eiffel, Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, Luxor Obelisk, La Seine, The Louvre. Then there are the slightly less walked but no less wonderful side roads and cafes to explore, as there is both the splendid tourist Paris, and the lived in world weary Paris, one I find to be equally glamorous.
I have been fortunate enough to walk many of these streets, and I hope that my time here will again allow me to walk these streets and museums until I have become intimately familiar with them. Even the sound of the boiler flickering in and out of existence from time to time, the near constant click for the heating of the radiator has become a welcome noise.
The French language is difficult of course, and the “R” sound that they make is some where between a gutteral grunt and coughing up a hair ball. I will never be able to master this, I know. For now the ‘RER’ is pronounced as ‘err eee errr’. I am quite deft at picking up nouns, however. Yet I cannot fathom how I will ever learn to spell or write, the rules are worse than anything else I’ve ever seen. I did however, have my first crepe au chocolat and a fully belly means a happy heart.
Paris has left her fingerprint upon my heart; I cannot say time will ever erase it.