I’ve been living close to Paris for half a year now, and apart from writing about feeling like an outsider, I’ve hardly shared my experience here at all. It’s not like in the past 6 months the city had nothing good to offer. The problem is that my view of city was clouded by the emotional drama unfolding within me. In short, Paris didn’t change for the worse since the last time I visited it in 2015—my view of it did. I started associating Paris with the negativity I was feeling at the time and sometimes still do.
Almost exactly 6 months ago, I was springing with joy just thinking about moving to my favorite place in the world. And then I set foot here in Paris and wondered why I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. Why did the City of Lights, adored by millions, not captivate my heart as it should have? I felt ridiculous and unsettled—how could I feel out of depth in a city as beautiful as Paris? I wanted to tell everyone how much I loved the city. Several times I opened my mouth but the words stayed on the tips of my tongue. If I wasn’t happy in Paris I surely couldn’t admit to love it.
And then today, Paris handed over my little rose rimmed glasses to me in a tray.
Today, I took the 300 steps to Sacré-Coeur, in addition to the ninety steps I took to come out of the Abbesses Station (my fault, I should’ve paid attention to the signs at the base of the staircase). But it doesn’t really matter, because the view from the top was totally worth the hike. With its pastel coloured boutiques, cute streets and cozy roadside restaurants, Montmartre is astoundingly beautiful. As I walked through a picturesque labyrinth of cobbled streets to arrive at the beautiful white église, I realised how happy Paris makes me.
Hanging from the railing and looking over Notre-Dame from Sacré-Coeur, I realised how incredible this city is and how wrong I was to associate it with the negative things going on in my life. The moment this truth was revealed to me was so satisfying and the view so magical that I could’ve stayed in that spot forever. I felt I could stay in Paris forever.
Walking past the charming bouquinistes and occasionally stopping to admire La Seine, I thought about the good things in life. After a long time, I felt an urgency in my step. I felt the urge to walk around the city till my body gave up. I felt the need to explore Paris as much as I could before I took the bus back to Jouy. I breathed in the city and almost wished to be lost in it. It’s like I met my true, buoyant self today after months of separation and I know that I will cherish this homecoming for years to come.
Paris, I hope you know how much these little moments with you matter to me. Thank you for being so patient with me. I now understand why Thomas Jefferson said that a walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.
Even if tomorrow I have nothing to call my own in this city, I’ll have this city itself, and that will be enough.