Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Question of Paris

The more time I spend in Paris and the more we, Chris and I, make it known that we want to have a life in Paris, the more often I hear something along the lines of: "You know living in Paris won't be perfect."

I know. 

And if there was an easy way, a less disruptive way, to answer the question of Paris I would happily take it.  If I could answer the question of Paris, quiet the incessant voices in my head that chant "Paris" during my waking and sleeping hours, then I would.  If Paris, my craving, my puzzle, my love, could be solved or satisfied with twice yearly visits of strolling the boulevards, and eating
Pierre Hermé macarons, then I would take this option and let Paris be just another beautiful part of my very lovely life.

But it's Paris and there is no easy answer.

When I try to solve the puzzle of Paris, it always comes back to love.  Love as an all-consuming entity that makes even the littlest things seem blissful or excruciating.  This is Paris in many ways.

With love, once you are past the everything-is-wonderful period, it is hard to remember the exact moment you fell in love and what brought you to that place.  I thought with Paris if I could just remember the moment, the moment when I gave in and lost myself, then perhaps I could understand both how to live with and to quiet this great love.

I have written before that I fell in love with Paris at the top of the stairs of the George V Metro station, looking out on the Champs Elysées .  There is truth in this.  Seeing my romanticized version of Paris for the first time took my breath away but it's not that simple.  To be so distracted and so consumed by Paris makes me believe that I have loved Paris long before I understood what Paris and what love meant.

I think back to when I met Chris for the first time and how falling in love was the farthest thing from my mind.  All I wanted was an aromatic head massage and a good haircut.  Not love.  However love persisted and before I knew it, I couldn't imagine my life without Chris.

Similarly, I can't imagine a life without Paris.  There is no other option and no other alternative.  Chris and Paris are the loves of my life.

Again to answer those who are quick to point out that my Paris fantasy will not translate into real life.

Merci.  I know.

Merci.  I know it will be difficult.  Yes, I accept there will be bad, ugly days.  Yes.  I know it rains in Paris.  And yes, I know I will sad in Paris, too. 

An ugly, rainy day in Paris. Still happy!
But is it not just like any other relationship with someone you love? You invest your heart and soul, taking incredible leaps of faith, because you can't live your life any other way.  There is no other way but love.  And while it doesn't always make sense or turn out exactly as you wished, at the end you have love and that makes every sacrifice, tear, argument or bad day worthwhile. 

All you really see when you love something, or someone, so hugely and without fear is possibility.  You see an opportunity to live your dream life.  Years ago when I first met Chris, and each and every day since, I was attracted to and excited by our endless possibilities.  I guess in many ways it's the same thing with Paris - I just see the possibilities.  Paris is a chance to live life without fear and without regret.

I appreciate my passion for Paris is hard to understand.  I know there are people out there that must think Chris and I are crazy for living a bit of a limited life in Victoria when we could arguably have so much more: a mortgage, weekends at summer cottages, dinners out, dishwasher, nicer car, etc.  But we couldn't have Paris.  Individually, and as a couple, we have made choices that comfortably give us Paris.

When I started writing this blog, when I was first getting to know Paris, I admit that my love could be perceived as quite superficial.  And while I can't deny that shopping is still one of my favourite Paris activities, for every visit to Hermés or Louis Vuitton there are just as many times where I am happy to stand at a brasserie bar nursing a cafe creme or walking the streets for hours and hours.  For every moment spent "licking the windows" of some chic boutique, there are dozens more when I am literally overcome by the sensory and emotional experience of Paris and have to stop to collect myself.  Paris can so easily bring me to tears of pure joy and gratitude.  

To my family, my parents especially, I want to write that I am sorry you raised a daughter who spends much of her time chasing a dream live 7,915km away.  I know it's difficult but it is because you raised me to believe I could be anything and accomplish whatever I wanted.  Your faith in me has made me braver and more confident than I ever imagined. 

I have written before that with each trip to Paris, I hold my breath the first day waiting for what I believe will be inevitable disappointment.  Maybe it will finally be the trip where the ordinary doesn't seem extraordinary, where I smell more sewage and less freshly, baked bread, where the taste of butter turns stale in my mouth.   It didn't happen on this recent trip.

Rather Paris felt like home.  And I guess when you are home, you don't need to question it...


Catherine Goron said...

Erin, your love for Paris is palpable!... Bravo for following your heart and not letting others (negatively) influence your dreams. Bon courage :) - Catherine

DeniseCovey _L_Aussie said...

Erin, I love Paris too. I even have a blog devoted to it. I've visited many times but only love it more each time. Then when my sister began doing a genealogy study of our family, she found French ancestors. So maybe it's in my genes. Every time my plane hovers over CDG I feel like i"m coming home. D.

Dianne Stevens said...

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Sylvia said...

Hi Erin, just left you a comment on one of your very first posts but I don't know if you go that far back to read.

Just to tell you that I share this crazy love you have for Paris, I can't explain it myself, I just need to be there. It's an obsession.

I understand you.


Loulou in France said...

No, Paris (or France for that matter) is not perfect, but understanding that fact will usually endear you even more to the City of Light.
I've enjoyed reading about your passion for Paris, a city I love as well!

afrenchfryeinparis said...

You hit the nail on the head with this post.

No matter where you live, the mundane requirements and tribulations of daily life will always be there, but if you're in a place that moves you and inspires you when you walk out your front door, it can make a big difference. For lovers of this city, if you step in dog crap at least you're stepping in dog crap in Paris. :)