//Yes, I realize that those first couple pictures are very similar to each other. I promise I really did cut out at least a hundred more of almost the same thing. I am also pretty sure that I have similar pictures from the other times I have been here, but I just can’t help it. It just overtakes me, you know? The beauty of the streets, the curved lamps, the old buildings. I can’t stop myself from wanting to hold on to it.// //The past couple times I have been here, my friend Emma and I have been on the search for the best Paris tea rooms. This time around, we slipped into brunch, a natural continuation of this brunch stage of life that we are all at. We went to a great place in Montmartre the first week and loved Marlette in the 9th last weekend.// // Please ignore the — as my friend Nancy describes them — chicken finger bangs that I have going on there, and focus instead on that pretty lady next to me, my brother Zach’s girlfriend Liz. My brothers happen to be excellent judges of women, a quality I like to take credit for, as they grew up with me, the epitome of female grace and poise. Ok, not really. But they have brought some great ladies into our lives. My brother Lyman JUST GOT ENGAGED LAST WEEK, and when I saw the text at around 4am, I did a little happy dance. (Why was I up, you ask? Because Paris had a crazy heat spell, doesn’t believe in AC, and I was having those weird heat-induced night wanderings that inevitable end in me trying to climb inside the refrigerator to cool off.) Liz got to spend one night with me in Paris as she passed through on her way elsewhere. She also left me with a bag of chocolates and pink champagne, an excellent anniversary dinner that I enjoyed on Tuesday.// //Oh Paris, you are that perfect blend of strict order and rebellion, people who like to wait in line just so they can cut, a country that loves rules so that they can break them, embraces red tape so they can find ways to avoid it. Spent an afternoon reading and enjoying these perfect lines in the Palais Royal.// //I firmly believe that the best investment for anyone who is spending more than a couple weeks in Paris, loves art, and is 18-30, is a Louvre Carte Jeune. It is the price of just a couple visits, gives you unlimited access to everything and allows you to skip those horrible lines that make you want to lay down and be trampled by tourists. It also frees you up to stop in just for an hour, rather than trying to squeeze the whole museum in a day. If you try the latter, you will inevitably get lost in the Egyptian Antiquities section and you will never, ever, EVER make it out. Seriously. No matter where you enter the museum, you will wind up with the mummies and will consider climbing inside an ancient sarcophagus and weeping quietly until you pass into the afterlife. With my pass, I have been hitting the Louvre pretty regularly (sorry Instagram followers… I know it has kind of been a Louvre-Love overload recently), breaking out my sketchpad and throwing myself back into art. Those sketches, pathetic though some of them are, are my favorite souvenirs of this city, tangible reminders of afternoons spent in one of my favorite spaces.////Sometimes, if beautiful light starts slipping through the kitchen window where I am staying, I dash out the back door of my building and sprint up 7 flights of stairs to watch the sunset from the floor where I used to live. It feels right up there, comfortable over the city.
A friend of mine recently asked me a question on Facebook, and I’ve been mulling it over since. She wanted to know if people here know I’m American, or if they think I’m French. It’s a touchy question for someone who loves a place so much, who has spent so much of her life learning this infernally picky language. I am proud to say that people, with the occasional rude exception because this is, after all, Paris, do not ever switch to English for me, or approach me an automatically assume I must be spoken to in not French. That is a win. Yet I know that for Parisians, I don’t pass as French. One time a group of Chinese school girls did cluster around me eating quiche on a bench and ask for a photo with the French girl… but they weren’t French. My height, my accent (not American, I have been told, but still an accent), my masculine/ feminine noun mistakes (something that will probably stay with me FOREVER because we just don’t do that in English), my desire to comb my hair and match my clothes, my open infatuation with this city and my irrepressible desire to smile at everyone because SMILING’S MY FAVORITE — all these things mark me as not from here.
And I think I’m ok with that. I am not from here. I have my own story and history and homeland and nationality. Why would I want to ignore all that? I can be understood, appreciated, eloquent, and perceptive of this culture. That’s enough. I actually have a special sort of disgust that I reserve for Americans who love to gush on Facebook and elsewhere about how much they hate America and how they actually “belong” somewhere else, how they imagine themselves as British or French or ______ because they spent a semester or a year abroad there. That’s ridiculous, especially if you didn’t speak the language, because that probably meant you hung out with expats the whole time. Who we are is a lifetime of accumulated experiences, and that doesn’t change, shouldn’t change, that fast. I think the whole world would be better off if people had the humility to both love where they are from, and also appreciate where they are going.
So back to this view, this view I called my own for a year and that keeps drawing me back. I am not, and will never be from here. But if loving something so much can make you belong to it, than at least I have that. //