A note from Paris

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” -Ernest Hemingway

In 2005, upon college graduation, I moved to Paris the following fall for some months and lived at the Cite des Arts. It was my first time truly alone; far from the comforts of friends and community in the college environment, and no longer under the shelter of my parents’ home. All responsibility and choice was mine. My first step (or leap) into the Real World. It was the first time I had to make my way on my own. It was the first time I really hurled myself into the unknown, into a city where I did not know anyone and hardly spoke the language. And I loved every moment of it. Paris was like a giant feast for me. Making new discoveries of how to get by in this tremendous city, making friends, making some money to survive.

Now after having lived in New York City for 2.5 years, and after traveling around the world for one year, I wondered if Paris would be any different for me. I’ve been feeling pretty jaded recently and part of me feared that the magic of Paris that I had once experienced would be gone. Nope. Returning to Paris 4 years later, at the end of an incredible journey, is the most perfect dessert. I am such a sucker for nostalgia and happening upon certain cafes and street corners, I am able to recall memories, both trivial and epic, that I had forgotten until now. Good things and bad things happened while I was in Paris, and at the time, I thought it was life or death. And now when I remember those times, I love every experience I had because of what I learned and because of where I am today. If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.

I find myself falling back into my same indulgent routine here. Slow morning with espressos and cigarettes. And then an entire afternoon to take in the city, going with the flow of the moody weather; Paris is beautiful in sunlight and maybe even more beautiful under a thick gray sky. Then my requisite Kir Royal or Cote du Rhone (whichever is cheaper) at a cafe in one of my favorite neighborhoods. A stroll along the Seine at night. The perfect setting to reflect on the past year.

Except that I am not really reflecting. Not there yet. Have I grown up? I think my feet have gotten bigger (a result of wearing open-toed shoes for most of the year), but has my outlook on life changed at all? I can’t really bring myself to think about all this already. And unlike what many people think, I did not go on this trip to “find myself”. Everything, for me, is simply an addition to the list of life experiences; trivial or epic, and from that point on, life continues in whatever form it takes. A lot of people have asked me. “Are you ready to get back to reality?” I don’t know how to answer this. Traveling for one year was a reality. I didn’t feel like I was in some paradise away from the Real World and that now I have to return to the harsh realities that Real Life demands. I am excited to continue on with this beautiful life and excited to see what my future will bring. Anything is possible.

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~ by ceciliabien on November 18, 2009.

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