A fourth New Years’ Eve in Paris was a landmark for this blogger: I realized that the city had grown on me. The marvel of first being in Paris has faded, the honeymoon is over. We’re officially committed to each other now.
Rather than an artifact to dissect, and sing praises, the city has become familiar, breeding the attendant love for Paris and contempt on some days.
Having two friends over from the US for New Year’s Eve was the first opportunity to realize what Paris now means to me: they were both overwhelmed by the beauty of the city, as was I – yet, the quality of my appreciation was tempered with a knowledge of the less flattering truths about the city. Paris, I realized, was a gorgeous sight to behold but also tightly and heavily managed to maintain its looks.
The sense of nuance was swiftly confirmed as we began to scramble for transport in the wee hours of the morning. The metro was not working as efficiently as it should have been. It was ‘free’, yes. However, the frequency of trains was insufficient to get everyone home in good time. A grouchy voice barked over the loudspeakers about the metro service coming to an end and that announcement was received by a deafening din of disapproval from reveling tourists and the passive aggressive grunts of Parisians.
Paris was still the prettiest city to be in, but no longer unstained: it had the power to awe and fascinate, aggravate and irritate.
Then, there was a chance encounter with a gaggle of goofs from my home country and their fellow minions from other parts of the English speaking world: Drunk, poorly dressed and loud. It must have been my own poor sense of dress that made it obvious I was one of them. So, they swarmed around me with inane jokes and offensive banter. They reminded me of the virtues of my adopted city. I realized Paris had become a place where I can also assume a new sense of self, indulge my delusions of grandeur and look down upon my compatriots. Paris, in essence, has evolved into a defense mechanism for my unresolved issues with myself and my home country(ies). One could call it a giant therapist’s chair.
For these reasons, Paris has become a saving space, a lived experience that is increasingly overshadowing my innocence of old about the city and it is also a reminder that one can be all that they set their minds to – it is a space of possibility. It has become simultaneously mundane and transcendent.
I would love to try to blog about the city with this new perspective of Paris as both lived and transformative space in 2015: To fill the blog with posts that are more true to the experience of living here as both an un-amused resident and significantly transformed and bewitched by her beauty.
Here’s to a fantastic year of blogging this city that I love immensely and take for granted in equal measure,