Hemingway said it best when he said that once you’ve been to Paris, wherever else you go in life, “it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast”. For better or for worse, it is la ville de mon coeur, the benchmark against which I measure all other metropolises, and it never fails to inspire my poor, romantic soul. With all that said, despite my adoration of it—because of my adoration of it—it doesn’t always bring me happiness. If Milan is lust, say, and Berlin is logic, then Paris is longing.
The problem with Paris is that it’s so wholly beautiful—even the bits that aren’t so beautiful are still beautiful, because it’s Paris—it makes you believe that you deserve nothing less than to have a life as beautiful as it is. There’s nowhere else in the world that makes me feel quite so completely myself—wild, wistful, woman, lost, found—as it does. But, at the same time, there’s nowhere else in the world that manifests itself into so many of daydreams, and really, that’s what makes me sad; sad for who I’d like to be and who I’ll never be and who—hopefully, maybe, still—I can one day be.
(I mentioned this concept to my friend during our annual girls’ trip there only last month.
“Well, that makes sense,” she laughed, more than used by now to my strange thoughts and my often stranger rants.
“It’s a thing,” I insisted, as we strolled along the Seine, past Île Saint-Louis, making our way, towards Les Deux Magots, which, incidentally, was one of Hemingway’s most frequented haunts, for as much champagne as we could muster. “I love it so much, but sometimes, it just makes me sad.”)
I suppose, for me, it all comes down to this: if I can’t be my best self (which, I would argue, is a carefully constructed mixture of the self you already are and the self you want to be) in the city of light—surrounded by its architecture, immersed in its ethos and its history; in the eternal company of Duras, Piaf, Wilde, et al—then, in all honesty, I’m not entirely sure where else I can be.
Answers on a postcard, please.