An Ode To ParisParis, Summer 2012
I reached my one-week anniversary of being in Paris yesterday, in which I celebrated with pistache and caramel buerre salé ice cream from Paris’s best, Le Berthillon. It’s unbelievable how much appreciation you gain for life when you solely eat bread, cheese, meat, butter, and dessert.
But this wasn’t the typical anniversary. I didn’t order myself a dozen of freshly-picked roses, schedule a lovely dinner on the Seine with a bottle of champagne and a fresh baguette, tell myself that I’m just the most beautiful woman in the world. No, this anniversary is one that’s familiar to all of you (don’t even try to deny it): it’s the kind that sneaks up on you, and after which, you say “oh sh*t!”
But the element of surprise wasn’t as much about the fact that I’ve been here for a week, but more about how this life I’m living abroad is inevitably stamped with a date of expiration; while my “anniversary” is a marker of how long I’ve been here, it’s also a marker of how little time I have left.
So while I’m on that “this is my real home and I’m actually not going back to Indiana” note, I’d like to say that this blog’s for you, Paris.
I love your food. I love the crunch of a freshly baked baguette and that every street in Paris is warm with the smell of rising yeast. My body no longer needs vegetables or fruits after you’ve deprived me of them; just give me one of those gooey cheeses you sell at the fromagerie. I’ve even gotten used to your ridiculously overpriced cups of café that are not even coffee, but a shot of espresso. And how will I ever go a day without my one euro, “in-between-class-snack” of pain au chocolat from the patisserie down the street?
I love your way of life. I love your innocent dedication to hedonism, for bliss is found in the times that your people dedicate to rich red wines and hour-long meals shared with friends. In a city that is so bustling during times of economic crisis, your pursuit of happiness is very much alive. I no longer mind taking a shower sitting down with what is essentially a hose. I no longer mind waiting until nine for dinner. And a city where all men wear slim-fitted suits and women rarely wear anything above the knee? I would quickly throw away my shorts for you.
But most of all, I love you, Paris. I love your ancient buildings that are rich with history that goes back before America was even America. I love that while I read Paris est une fête by Ernest Hemingway, I can walk to the cafes, the roads, all the places that he frequented. I love that when I walk down a cobblestone street, I smell pungent cheese as I walk past the fromagerie, and salt and brine as I pass the poissonnerie, during all of which the smell of old cigarettes draws out nostalgia for a time of the past. I love being surrounded by picturesque sights, and the beauty of your language parallels the beauty of your ville.
So as I lie in my squeaky twin bed, gazing out my port-fenêtre, the somber thought that my time with you is limited looms over me. But while I must eventually leave, I know that a piece of you will always be with me.
So as Hemingway once said: “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
And that, I would say, is belle.
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