Globe-trotting foodie, Francophile, and a woman I greatly admire, Andi Fisher, author of the blog Misadventures with Andi, asked me to write a guest post about my Passion for Paris. I thought a lot about it, not wanting to describe in detail all the clichés that so often come to mind. I decided to write about how living in Paris has always been my destiny, and the path I took to arrive there.
Passion for Paris: a place of destiny
My love affair with Paris began at the age of 7, many years before I knew anything on the subject of love. I listened to my father describe, in such melodic detail, a city in which writers found refuge, artists found inspiration and dreamers found a home. Somehow I knew that one day I too would succumb to it’s lure. Even then, I was a romantic.
My first encounter with Paris was not until my university studies found me in London. With great anticipation, I took myself on a weekend escape to ‘The City of Lights’. Thankfully, I knew early enough in life that it was not prince charming who created the fairytale but ourselves. Though perhaps he was waiting for me across the English Channel.
Upon entering the scene, I fell in love. The centuries old architecture illuminated by antique street lamps, the blue and pink hues of an incomparable sky, the many bridges, each telling a unique story as they transport you from one bank to another. All of this combined to create a mood of timeless enchantment. Those few days in Paris felt much like stepping onto a stage, set from another era. I became lost amidst a tangle of cobbled streets, indulged in many a café crème, and sat for hours in mindful euphoria. Aside from my permanent grin and a lack of French vocabulary, I could have passed for a local. But it was not my time, I was not the star of this performance. Not yet.
My ‘adult’ life commenced and NYC became my home. I held on to my visions of Paris, confident that I would find my way back. I began a career in advertising, made close friends, gained professional experience and reveled in my independence. One such friend became very dear to me. She too happened to be a Francophile, having both lived and loved in Paris in the past. Immediately we began to plot ‘Operation: Pick Up and Move to Paris’, logically of course. We were prepared to put our careers on hold and reduce ourselves to working in a café or perhaps teaching English. I’m not certain whether it was the difficulty of abandoning the corporate ladder or whether a new love had deterred our attention. Needless to say, we never made it to Paris.
It was several years and promotions later that Paris reappeared. I was by this time working at an international advertising agency, living the Madison Avenue dream. By complete chance, I met a Parisian girl who happened to be my counterpart in our Paris office. We got along famously and almost immediately discussed the possibility of exchanging positions in our respective cities. ‘Operation: NYC-Paris Swap’ was put into motion. It seemed the perfect plan until her job situation, simply put, fell apart. Perhaps this was a sign that I was not yet meant to cross the sea.
During my tenth year as a New Yorker, I became much more curious about life in the rest of the world. With little more than a grand appetite for travel and discovery, I packed a bag, bid farewell to the life I had known, and began my greatest journey, to date. Thirteen months spent exploring 32 countries. France of course, being one of them.
Within my ambitious travel itinerary, I allowed myself the luxury of spending one month in ‘The City of Lights’. Perhaps now my passion for this city would finally be satisfied, I would find a home and the journey of a thousand days (400 to be exact) would come to an end. I would become a Parisian.
Alas, that was not the case. Mostly because it’s impossible to become Parisian, especially for someone of my foreign stature. And to be honest, during this, my seventh trip to Paris, I did not care to. I began to see the city in the light of reality, versus the enticing glow in which it had previously shined. I was not disenchanted, that would have been impossible, but I began to look at Paris as someone from within. I began to notice the social and cultural complexities as well as the formality in the people. I began to see Paris as real. My relationship had finally become intimate. The seduction ended but the love affair continued.
My life resumed in NYC, much richer and more insightful than prior to traveling. I became newly inspired by all things French. I took cooking classes to better understand this highly-revered kitchen, and resumed my language studies. The stage was being set.
And then, one day on my way to yoga on an early Spring evening, the entire path of my life became clear. It appeared in the form of a handsome green-eyed Italian. (But shouldn’t he be French? No, that would be too easy.) Smiles were exchanged, followed by words, followed by a drink, dinner and a promise to return. After all, he lived in Paris.
It took six weeks to fall in love, though who was counting, and another three months to move to Paris. The heart had decided and the head followed suit. I had met the most passionate man of my life and he lived in the most romantic city in the world. Was there even a question?
I am now living what I often considered to be my destiny. It was just a matter of time. I do believe there exists a place in which we feel most ourselves, where our souls can take flight. For me this place is Paris. Not without difficulties, but the myriad of pleasures outweigh the pains. The richness in the culture is undeniable, ever present in the historic sights that line the streets, the enchanting gardens waiting to be discovered, the neighborhood markets displaying regional specialties, the numerous art exhibitions, music and film festivals. I could go on.
To live in Paris is to live within a composition of perpetual charm and beauty. Am I over-romanticizing? Yes indeed, but this is the city of romance, and I am in love.