Paris Newsletter: Month Twelve

Dear Paris,
A few years ago, a friend of mine was preparing to go abroad. She was nervous to go and we spoke on IM for a while about how much she would grow during her time in Scotland, how much she had to look forward too, and especially how strong she would feel when she came back at the end of the semester. "This will be you," I wrote:
love love love
love you love
love love love

I have never felt as close to that diagram as I did this past week in Paris. What I thought would be a horribly depressing seven days ended up being my best yet in a city that welcomed me as if I had never left. Everything was just as I left it, the Champs Elysee still led to the Louvre, Notre Dame was still catercornered to St. Michel, and all the Starbucks were still where I'd left them. What a relief to know I hadn't imagined the beauty of the Jardin de Luxembourg or the quiet calmness of the Seine.

In some twist of inexplicable efficiency, I managed to see every person I wanted to and then some. I only cried once while walking through the Tuilerie gardens, and that was only out of sheer awe at how much beauty could exist in a city, and more importantly, how much beauty could exist in the people I have come to know and love over the past year. I saw ex-boyfriends and wished them well; I saw ex-students and apologized for my not coming back; I sat down with my ex-boss and spoke frankly about how disappointed I was to not work with him, but how excited I was to return to my new job. It was as if I stopped beating around the bush with every person and told each one of them how much they meant to me. And holy shit, was that ever freeing.

On Friday, I spent the afternoon walking through the Latin Quarter alone, eating ice cream for lunch. My joy must have been spelled out across my face because every single person I passed smiled and said "BONJOUR, MADEMOISELLE! QUE VOUS ETES CHARMANTE, MADEMOISELLE! C'EST BONNE, LA GLACE, MADEMOISELLE?" It was like that scene from Beauty and the Beast where bakers and bookstore owners and sheep are all popping out of doorways to watch her as she walks through town. And I'm not kidding, I just about died of happiness, I just about converted to Parisiennisme, leaving behind the mess of men and boys and taking a vow of celibacy, all in the name of baguettes and cheese.

Maybe it seems like I'm rambling on too much with love for a place that is known for its sneers and its snobisms; perhaps some of you will read this and imagine that I'm romanticizing a place that pays way too many civil servants per year and should be "happy that we saved their asses during World War II." But I can only say this. To have felt so much joy, so loved, so free, even for one afternoon must mean something. Someone must be doing something right in that city so that I was able to feel that even for 30 seconds, and for that, and for my friends abroad, I am forever grateful.

The trip ended with a mind-bogglingly funny night in which Maddy and I got plastered on the Pont des Arts, seduced a Scottish barman into giving us double the alcohol we paid for, and ended up taking the bus home with a bunch of rowdy rugby fans. Perhaps my favorite moment of the whole trip was what happened next, when Maddy used her insane convincing power to make two men MAKE-OUT in the bus after having promised one a kiss for it. Somehow we made it home with French flag colored painted on our faces, and proceeded to eat Dunkin Heines chocolate icing from the jar. Hung over for most of my inter-continental trip the next morning was a bitch, but damn wasn't it worth it, wasn't it all so freaking worth it.



Moriah said...

...and it really was :-)

I'm glad your last voyage was a success, albeit bitter-sweet.

~ M

Anonymous said...

Oh my god - WHAT an amazing night it was! Although is it bad that I can't actually remember those photos being taken..? Haven't croised my 19 year old banlieusard again as yet..

gros gros gros bisous,

Mad xxxxxxxxxxx