I couldn’t sleep the night before my flight to Paris. I lay awake in my bed, watching every video Buzzfeed had ever made, with butterflies filling my stomach in anticipation of returning to my favorite city. So often, in returning to places and people that I love or have loved, there is a tinge of disappointment that things aren’t how you left it. People change and grow up. Cities are demolished and campuses are reconstructed.
But not my Paris.
Getting out of the metro at St. Michel made me feel so at home again–something I’ve never felt anywhere else. The bridge overlooking the Seine and Notre Dame was exactly as it was when I walked over it three years ago, when a man playing “Sous le Ciel de Paris” on his accordion made me burst into tears the day before my departure. The Canal St. Martin still glistened at night, and the streets still smelled of cigarettes, baguettes, and urine. The only thing missing was my Navigo (plus this time I had Google Maps so we got lost significantly fewer times than I did before).
I was so happy to be able to share the city I love (and that I hope loves me) with people I love so much. In some ways, sharing something you are passionate about can often make you vulnerable to criticism–there is always a chance people won’t like it as much as you do and then form their opinion of your character around that. But Paris isn’t like that–it’s easy to love. It can be horrible, smelly, expensive and filled with pickpocketers, but it is also the only place I know in the world where you can hear street performers play Edith Piaf while gazing at the boats drift along the Seine, and then walk down the streets and across bridges that have inspired so many artists, writers, musicians and visitors before. A cloudy day in Paris isn’t dreary, it’s chic.
Everyone’s Paris is a little bit different, just as any city or experience may be. But mine is filled with relentless curiosity, a hunger for culture, and a thirst for wine–and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Mon Dieu, qu’elle était belle. ♦