Paris is a dream. No, really, I've dreamed of heading to Paris ever since I was a little kid. There was something about it that always seemed different and otherworldly. I dreamed of writing love letters in Paris, of standing beneath the Eiffel Tower, of wearing red lipstick and walking along the river. There was a feeling Paris held for me that I couldn't find in America. It was something other than. It held the allure of every place I haven't yet been to, an idea that I could visit and live inside a place where everything is new and different and has the ability to change me on a fundamental level.
When we arrived in the Paris train station then, it wasn't without a little excitement. Everything seemed to click into place. The train station itself was Paris in miniature; a hot pink macaron shop, a stand selling freshly made sandwiches served on French baguettes, the lure and spit of French accents chattering excitedly nearby, the scam artists, the pigeons, the cigarette smoke circling our heads like an insistent cloud. It was then I knew Paris wouldn't just be a made-up city that lived only in my dreams. Instead, it was everything I'd ever imagined.
We stayed in a small French attic apartment with windows overlooking the slate tiles of Parisienne rooftops. From there I felt as though I could see all of Paris (I couldn't) and when we opened the windows, the loud blurt of French motorcycles plagued our ears for days on end. Oftentimes clouds would drop by our open window, dancing past in shades of gray-blue, then pink, then gray slashed with gold. We ate fresh fruit from the market and made salads with fresh butter lettuce we'd just gotten from the vegetable stand across the street. We drank French wine (loads of it,) all recommended to us by the clerk at the Boulangerie down the street. We almost got scammed by a French con artist in a bus station who tried to tell us train tickets were $50 (no thanks.) We picnicked in Parc des Buttes Charmont and hiked up and down the hills while French babies waddled naked into the nearby streams. We packed ourselves into the Louvre with hundreds of other people, all of us squishing together and dripping with sweat just to catch a glimpse of the Mona Lisa. We lit candles for our relatives in Notre Dame, we walked along the River Seine and the Canal Saint-Martin, and we munched on macarons from Ladureé. We ate falafel wrapped in paper, had yogurt for dessert, and watched the glass topped boats swimming beneath the Parisienne bridges. We got stuck in a French rainstorm where the raindrops bounced to the concrete like drops of glass from a chandelier and ended in a near perfect rainbow just above the Chamber of Commerce. We watched fireworks shoot like sunbeams from The Eiffel Tower, the French flag waved to us from the inside of the Arc de Triomphe, and we bought wine at a store one night that we weren't sure we were supposed to be in. My dreams could not have taken me to a better, more enchanting Paris.
What I'm trying to say is this: goodbye America. I'm catching a plane to Paris and we are never coming back.
Just kidding! (Sorry mom!)
But really, Paris will be a part of me for a long time to come and I know it's not our last time visiting. When our time in Paris finally came to an end, it wasn't without a little sadness that I left the city, packed into a taxi we specifically splurged on so we could watch the city spill past the windows one last time. There were pigeons, there was cigarette smoke, there were motorized scooters, boulangeries, and French cafés. There were used bookstores and coats of graffiti and statues molded of beige concrete. There were memorials and beautiful parks and shops selling beautifully handmade clothing. I'm not sure when we will be back, but I do know it'll happen. Until then, Paris is a dream.