i got up and went for a morning walk through the abbesses, a district of quiet streets within the montmartre area, and it felt like i was back. i’d gotten my sea legs again, so to speak, and was out walking through a foreign place by myself, which apparently is one of my favorite things in the world to do. it’s not that i don’t like company; it’s just that i feel most strong and most free when i do this alone.
and peaceful, too. how nice to just be attuned to one’s own thoughts as a breeze rains tiny petals down on one’s head on a silent street in paris. non?
i must say, paris has grown on me. like so much mold on rocquefort cheese. it really is a beautiful city. consistently beautiful, too. it doesn’t just look the way it looks in a few areas—paris looks like paris everywhere you go.
in addition to its beauty, there is the romance of feeling as if you’ve teleported into the past. the city has maintained its quaintness and its aesthetics through the decades, and it naturally evokes a mood. don’t get me wrong—new york evokes a mood, too; that mood is GO. new york is all about action, momentum, forward movement. paris’s mood, on the other hand, is STAY. stay this way. stay for a while over your coffee. stay beautiful. stay in love. ne me quitte pas. stay.
i’m getting familiar with the more basic elements of my surroundings as well. i’m learning useful words here and there (for example, chaud means hot, moins means less, petit dejéuner means breakfast, boisson means drink). and i’m starting to get a better feel for places—a charcuterie sells pork, a tissu store sells fabrics, and pressing places are laundromats or dry cleaners or both. the fact is, whatever your environment, you will adapt. whether that means learning a new language or simply figuring out how to get by without learning it.
another thing to like about paris is its size. unlike london, where going someplace always took me a minimum of one hour of door-to-door travel (not to beat a dead horse, but…*cough*new york*cough*), paris is small. no matter how much i dilly-dally, no matter how many times i’ve left far later than i intended to, i’m always early to my destination. even when i’ve waited ’til the very last minute and then gotten scared because i missed a train…i’ve still been early.
i can’t manage to be late here because it just takes no time to get around. though the trains may be are hot, stinky, and old-fashioned, they are plentiful and get the job done well. and the city complements them by not sprawling out very far. i never feel afraid of getting lost anymore, either, because, though the streets are a maze of wildly varying geometric angles, they always seem to manage to lead me where i was headed. they just do so in a meandering, paris-like fashion as opposed to a right-angled, poised for action new york one.
the people of paris are growing on me, too. my temporary flatmates have been really nice to me. they’ve opened their home to me, offered to share their food of late (urgh), and they always drop by my room to say hello and exchange a few pleasantries. when friends of theirs, just returned from holidays, came by last night, they introduced me and invited me to join their get-together. when i said i didn’t want to burden them with trying to include me by speaking english, they unanimously poo-poo’d that notion and said it was a good exercise for them.
the flatmates then made a point of keeping me in the loop whenever the conversation drifted to french. as much as the beer, weed ( 😦 ), and cigarettes (after cigarettes after cigarettes) weren’t my scene, it was still overall a good experience. i’ve now kicked it with a bunch of young, educated, athiest parisian cynics, some of whom are gay girls, and i think i’m the better for the experience. my hair, freshly washed as of the day before, can unfortunately not say the same thing for itself.