THEME BY MARAUDERSMAPS
j'aime gâteau
Hello, I'm Caroline.
I lived in Paris for five months and had some adventures.
tagged as
# despairing
# text

I turned twenty-one the other day.

Which means that it’s been one year.

A 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.

calorineabroad:

  • the Latin Quarter
  • the top of the Eiffel Tower
  • the top of the Notre-Dame
  • Le Marché d’Aligre
  • Disneyland Paris
  • the Abbey Bookshop on Parcheminerie Street
  • the Champs-Elysées
  • the Louvre
  • the Musée d’Orsay
  • the Gare du Nord
  • the Gare de l’Est
  • the palace of Versailles
  • Montmarte
  • Père Lachaise
  • Montparnasse
  • La Côte d’Azur
  • Marseille
  • Lyon
  • Bordeaux
  • Lille
  • Italy (specifically Venice and Rome)
  • the UK
  • Ireland
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Germany
  • Prague

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.

istillshootfilm:

View of the Eglise Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis from the now-closed Le Dome in Le Marais, Paris.

Shot with a Nikon FM2 and Agfa Ultra 100

I’ve walked past this church at least five times and not once during those at least five times did I go in.

The first time was about a day after I had arrived in Paris with my parents. We had been looking for the so-called “ACCENT Center” where my classes would be held. We managed to find it…after going down the wrong street and in the wrong direction. It should’ve taken ten minutes to walk from the hotel we were staying at to the Center. It took thirty instead. It felt like a victory, though, and to celebrate, my dad decided to lead us to a bookstore he had read about in a travel guide.

It should’ve taken ten minutes to walk there from the Center.

It took forty.

And in that forty, we passed this beaut.

The second time was maybe a week after that. I was looking for a thrift shop called Free’P’Star. Or at least one of the three that were in this area. I was with my friend, Jerrie, and not knowing how close the 4e arrondissement was to the 12e, we took the metro. The second we emerged from the metro’s mouth, I got the weirdest sense of vertigo.

I spun in a circle.

I saw the church.

Jerrie was there the third time, too. So were my roommate Sarah and our friend, Victoria. Like anyone that studies in Paris, we decided to go museum-hopping. Our destination was la Maison Européenne de la Photographie. And like anyone that studies in Paris for the first time, we got lost: we started walking in the opposite direction and farther down. The map didn’t help. The heat didn’t either.

We stopped.

We found out where North was situated.

I looked up.

Hello again.

The fourth time I was by myself. I had been exploring the city on my own. (Which was an accomplishment in and of itself because I had been scared shitless that I was going to get assaulted and raped. Thankfully, I’m paranoid and just have an overactive imagination.) I managed to find an anime convention, a weekly weekend art market, two parks—one with a couple of street performers, the other with a theme park—a comic book store and last but not least, an “American” diner called Breakfast in America (Two).

I ate a breakfast burrito for dinner at BIA. I couldn’t finish it.

I started waddling back to my apartment.

And there it was. Again.

The last time I walked past the church, I was waddling again: (another) dinner at BIA, then a double scoop of ice cream from Berthillon on l’Île Saint-Louis, and I was being slowly crushed by my food baby and my small bladder.

It was sprinkling. My bladder was not appreciative. My ruined boots were likewise unappreciative.

I was almost at a sprint when I passed it.

I didn’t even look.

I left Paris two days later.

I should’ve gone in at least once.

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.

Swear to god, the first thing I thought when I saw this picture was “That’s in Paris.”
Two things: 1) It might have actually been taken in Paris, because the photographer’s portfolio is full of shots from around the city of lights (and they’re all beautiful, holy christ).
2) I didn’t realize how much I missed it. Okay, yeah, obviously I missed living in one of the greatest cities in the world, where I could take the metro to the Champs-Élysées or walk along the Seine or even eat at Breakfast in America.
But I didn’t realize that there was a part—a really large part—of me that actually expected to go back. And not just for a visit.
Like, some part of me has been thinking that coming back to the US and starting school again has been a temporary thing. Because my home was all the way across the Atlantic, over the UK and Ireland, and a hop, skip and a jump from the English Channel.
Which begs the question, when the hell did that happen? I know why it happened; everyone knows why it happened. But when? Was it when the entire city smelled like cigarette smoke and piss during the summer? Did it happen when I forgot how to speak French conveniently when it was my turn to order something at a restaurant? Or maybe when my phone got stolen, maybe that was it?
Okay, so maybe I don’t know why it happened either.
But the worst thing is that even knowing how deluded I’m being, I don’t really want to stop.
I want to go back home, even if it’s just a dream.

Swear to god, the first thing I thought when I saw this picture was “That’s in Paris.”

Two things: 1) It might have actually been taken in Paris, because the photographer’s portfolio is full of shots from around the city of lights (and they’re all beautiful, holy christ).

2) I didn’t realize how much I missed it. Okay, yeah, obviously I missed living in one of the greatest cities in the world, where I could take the metro to the Champs-Élysées or walk along the Seine or even eat at Breakfast in America.

But I didn’t realize that there was a part—a really large part—of me that actually expected to go back. And not just for a visit.

Like, some part of me has been thinking that coming back to the US and starting school again has been a temporary thing. Because my home was all the way across the Atlantic, over the UK and Ireland, and a hop, skip and a jump from the English Channel.

Which begs the question, when the hell did that happen? I know why it happened; everyone knows why it happened. But when? Was it when the entire city smelled like cigarette smoke and piss during the summer? Did it happen when I forgot how to speak French conveniently when it was my turn to order something at a restaurant? Or maybe when my phone got stolen, maybe that was it?

Okay, so maybe I don’t know why it happened either.

But the worst thing is that even knowing how deluded I’m being, I don’t really want to stop.

I want to go back home, even if it’s just a dream.

"I go to sleep thinking about Paris, and when I awake in the morning, I think I’m waking up in Paris. I’m here but I’m not here. Strange phenomenon. I look at people without seeing them; I hear what’s being said but I don’t absorb it. Paris has already captured me…I seem to be floating; I barely acknowledge anyone or anything. I tell you Paris must be a wicked city indeed…to be able to work that kind of magic from that great a distance…"
An African in Paris, Bernard Binlin Dadié

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.