I lived in Paris for five months and had some adventures.
I turned twenty-one the other day.
Which means that it’s been one year.
An entire fucking year since I went ahead and lost my heart to another country.
When I turned twenty, the skies above Paris were blue and cloudless, the air was humid as hell, and the buttons on my skirt kept coming undone. I spent the day walking around the city with my parents and freaking out about how they were about to leave me on my own for five months. The day passed much too quickly and before I knew it, my parents were saying “we’ll be just a Skype call away” and my heart was stuck somewhere in the vicinity of my tonsils. I hugged them goodbye, stepped into the elevator, and burst into tears.
On the bright side, it was a good bonding experience with my new roommate.
My twenty-first birthday did not involve crying, cobblestones, or a skirt that I should probably mend because really, it’s been a year. Instead it was full of new friends and, of course, alcohol. All things considered—those things being the fact that I tossed my cookies in front of my new friends and have yet to stop feeling embarrassed about it—it was a good twenty-first birthday.
But I would’ve killed to relive my twentieth.
I want to go back to Paris. I want to go back home, where the air either smells like cigarette smoke or urine. I want to walk on the cobblestones until I get fifty new blisters on my feet. I want to get horribly lost somewhere in the seventh arrondissement and have the locals look down their noses at me when I try to ask for directions in my stuttering French. I want to eat ten more sandwich grecs from that gyro place next to Carrefour and five more pizzas from Le coq. I want to spend an ungodly amount of money on baguettes and pastries and hot chocolate. I want to ride the metro and avoid making eye-contact with persistent creepers. I want to walk around Montmartre and the Eiffel Tower and take pains to avoid the scam artists roving around the area. I want to go to another fashion show during Fashion Week and feel entirely out of place and un-chic in the back of the crowd. I want to go back to Versailles and spend too much money on a thirty-minute boat ride on a beautiful day. I want to get lost in le Musée d’Orsay, for the third time. I want to start walking around the city only to be forced back inside because it started to pour and I forgot my umbrella. I want to discover places that I had meant to discover the first time around. I want to climb back up the Eiffel Tower and the Notre Dame so I can retake the pictures that I lost when my phone got stolen. I want to sit down in one of the parks and sketch until I get funny looks. I want to walk through le Jardin du Luxembourg because I never made it there in the entirety of my five months. I want those five months back, just so I could live them again.
I would not give the smallest crap if I wasn’t legal anymore or if I had to relive the emotional whiplash of my twentieth birthday, just let me go back.
the Latin Quarter
the top of the Eiffel Tower
the top of the Notre-Dame
Le Marché d’Aligre
- the Abbey Bookshop on Parcheminerie Street
the Musée d’Orsay
the Gare du Nord
the Gare de l’Est
the palace of Versailles
- La Côte d’Azur
- Italy (specifically Venice and Rome)
Goddamnit, I completely forgot about the bookstore.
On the one hand, I couldn’t afford to travel much outside of Paris, nor did I have the time. And I’ll probably never make it back to Venice or Rome.
But on the other, at least I managed to hit most every place within the city itself, not to mention London and Prague and a few other places I didn’t even know I wanted to visit.
Let’s call it even.
# home is the first european city that you've stayed in for an extended period of time
# home is not where you were born
# it may not even be where your loved ones are
# (although it may)
# home is where your heart fell in love with a place
And bam, suddenly it hits you that you’ve been here back for more than a month. For almost two.
Soon, it’ll be three, four, a year. A decade. A lifetime.
And you haven’t gone back.
Gone back home.
# okay maybe not the LAST last post
# i'll probably write in from time to time about random memories and adventures
I figure I need to write one last post on this blog. Just to tie everything together.
Because that’s it. That’s all.
Five months of my life, gone. One moment, I’m lost in the 11e arrondissement and dead on my feet, trying not to think about how not fluent in French I was and the next, I’m here, back in Irvine. Monotonous, slow, odorless Irvine.
Help, my head is still reeling from the whiplash.
And the worst part of all of it is what didn’t change: No, I’m still not fluent in French. Nope, I still have no idea where all the monuments lay in relation to the others. Nah, I didn’t try escargot or frog legs. Hah no, I don’t have a French boyfriend. And damnit no, I still have no idea which boulangerie has the best bread in the city.
But then again…so what? I lived in Paris for (about) five months. I climbed to the top of the Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower and Montparnasse and the Sacré Coeur. I wandered and meandered and attended class all around the city, learning about the different monuments at the monuments. I stayed inside the Louvre until closing time. I got lost in le Musée d’Orsay. Twice. In the same visit. I watched the 17,388th showing of “La cantatrice chauve” in the Latin Quarter. I got the drunkest I’ve ever been somewhere near République and then lost my chapstick sometime before I got back to my apartment. I got hit-on on a fairly regular basis (albeit by creepy old dudes). I shopped on the Champs-Élysées. I went to Disneyland Paris and found out that the Space Mountain there is about three times better than the Space Mountain here. I dolled myself up and went to a fashion show during Fashion Week. I spent an hour inside le Musée de l’erotisme with a friend and boy, was that a bonding experience. I traveled to Aix-en-Provence, Rouen, Giverny, Normandy, Brittany, London, Prague, Vienna, and Budapest. I ice skated in the Grand Palais and fell asleep in the Petit Palais. I tried French food and liked it. I spent time—much longer than I care to admit—in two of the city’s most famous cemeteries, looking for the graves of Eugène Ionesco and Édith Piaf. I visited Versailles on a day with perfect weather.
I lived in Paris.
For the first time, “to live” was something more than breathing and thinking and moving around. And I don’t mean that in an over-dramatic and “no one understands me i had a terrible life full of misery” kind of way; I mean that I actually felt like I was hitting every emotion that everyone that supposedly “lives it up” says you’re supposed to have and I met all of my own expectations of the term as well.
I lived in Paris, I felt alive in Paris, I had the time of my life in Paris.
And I grew up as well: I actually like vegetables now (so long as they’re cooked). I like seafood, too.
Still not a big sushi fan though. Shrugs.
Of course…I have regrets: I regret not going out more, not dancing more, not trying more French pastries. If only I’d stopped procrastinating, maybe I would have gone to all the places my uncle recommended to me. If only I’d planned it more, maybe I could have gone to Italy or Nice or Morocco. If only I’d put my phone in my purse, maybe that dick of a thief wouldn’t’ve run up and grabbed it out of my hand.
But I wouldn’t change any of it. (Except maybe my phone getting jacked because I’m still pissed about it.) (Although, right after it happened, a group of locals came up to me and cursed the dick out. And the lady at the information desk complimented my French on the theft form I filled out. All of that to make me smile, and they succeeded.)
I lived in Paris.
I wonder if Irvine can keep up with me now.