Sunday, June 6, 2010

"I need to be in Paris."

In a previous blog posting I wrote that one of my biggest disappointments was the realization that I was never going to live the life of Carrie Bradshaw, either professionally or personally. I spent most of my twenties watching and re-watching episodes of SATC learning about everything from summering in the Hamptons to oral sex. And like most fans I was devastated when the show finally went off the air.

But there was a time (Several episodes!!) when I hated Carrie Bradshaw...

Season 6, the final season, episodes 19 & 20, An American Girl in Paris (part une & deux)

Fans of SATC either loved or hated the character of Aleksandr Petrovsy, as played by Mikhail Baryshnikov. Whatever your opinion may be, in episode 18 of season 6. he uttered some of the most romantic and most promising words:

"I need to be in Paris."

I found Carrie's hesitation to go to Paris incomprehensible and maddening. Here was a man, a wealthy and talented man, offering an opportunity to live not just in Paris, but in a suite at Plaza Athenee in Paris, all expenses paid, where you biggest worry would be which patisserie to purchase your warm croissant from each morning. You can call me a disgrace to my sex but I was thrilled when Carrie packed her bags and abandoned her NYC life to be kept in Paris. And then I eagerly anticipated the final two episodes.

Except that Paris-Carrie was a weak, whining shadow of New-York-Carrie. As SATC climaxed against the backdrop of Paris, the urge to crawl through my television and shake her senseless was overwhelming. I have since watched these two episodes again and again (most recently yesterday) and this urge has not lessened. If anything it gets worse with every trip I take to Paris.

Is this what Americans really think of Paris and Parisians? That Paris is impenetrable and lined with dog shit? That all Parisians are snobbish and unwelcoming? That Paris is a grey, cold city that mocks outsiders and forces them to wander the city's streets smoking and shivering?

"No one in Paris seems to understand me."

Carrie trembled those words during a phone call home to New York clearly missing the whole point of Paris.

Being misunderstood in Paris is part of its allure. It is through being misunderstood that forces you to embrace new ways of communicating not just with Parisians, but also with the culture. And then it is finally finding the familiar in the misunderstanding, finding the familiar in the strange, challenging place that is Paris, that makes you fall in love with your Paris-self. In Paris you discover extraordinarily beautiful places in your heart and and in your mind that you didn't even know you had.

Predictably at the end of the final episode, Big shows up in Paris to rescue Carrie and return her to New York.

"Take me home."

Frankly, I can't imagine saying those words in Paris. Paris has become home in a way, a sort of house of dreams way. I typically spend my last few hours in Paris giving my husband the-don't-make-me-get-on-the-plane-eyes.

Paris is so much more than a series of monuments and historical moments represented in films and literature. Parisians are so much more than beret wearing, frowning, American hating caricatures. Paris is potential, unrealized and realized. Paris is where you go to be your best self.

And no one ever needs rescuing from Paris.


Maradair said...

Love your blog entry, Erin. You're so lucky to have found a "soul-city" - a place where we feel like our most authentic and best selves. For me, that city is New York! So I understand Carrie - Paris is great, but it's not her "soul city"...SATC is really a love story about 4 girlfriends and New York City. It's only fitting the show in it's finale needed to go back there (it's the fifth 'girl" in this love story). Here's to our 'soul-cities' wherever they may be! (and let's do coffee soon - in Victoria!)

Ryeder said...

Another great blog post. Love the way you tell stories. Thanks.

Britta said...

Hi, this is a beautiful blog! And I'm looking foreward to Paris, where I will go in about thirty days with my husband for a holiday - and I will enjoy every minute! Britta