"It's just Paris," I replied.
Given that I have spent the majority of my life enjoying sweet sea breezes and wide open green spaces, I should be more bothered by Paris' less shiny and perfume scented bits. At home I am never more than ten minutes away from the nearest beach and the only sweat I smell is from Countess' flanks after a sunny ride. I can always find space to be alone and even my office has a forest view.
Truthfully, I don't miss those things very much. When I am away from Paris, I crave architectural details and streets that spill into each other with names I can't pronounce. I crave the challenge of walking shoulder-to-shoulder and not tripping into the street to be run over by an errant scooter. I love that I always have to be aware in Paris. I am not a dreamy person and I love how Paris demands my attention and my engagement. Paris stimulates me. I crave hearing different languages. I crave restaurants that sit on sidewalks and waiters that will let you linger two hours over a single glass of wine. I don't mind eating with my elbows tucked tightly into my ribs to avoid knocking over my neighbour's plate of foie gras. I like hearing whispered "pardon's" and the polite replies of "c'est pas grave". I am not bothered by the traffic noise, even the piercing and peculiar sounding sirens that cause older Parisians to drop their shopping baskets to cover their ears. I love that Paris is mostly a city of greys, greens, creams and golds and that its residents provide its colours and enhance its personality. I crave Paris' attention to detail; for every piece of garbage or grimy smudge I notice, there is something so stunningly beautiful or carefully executed that it literally brings tears to my eyes. I love that if I walk two blocks in any direction, I can experience a totally different Paris.
After yesterday's wild storms, the sun came out and temperatures soared near 30 degrees. I took the métro to meet a friend (another one!) for a drink at Merci and arrived sweaty and sticky, trying to dry my face with those teeny-tiny feminine face blotters. I needed a body towel. The Parisians standing near me on the métro looked dry and shine-free. There was a guy leaning against me wearing a thick green tweed suit who looked so comfortable he could have been wearing a Speedo on the beaches of Nice. None of the women had make-up running down their faces or sweaty, smudge marks on the lenses of their over sized sunglasses. Maybe I have had too much fresh air?