“Non, je ne regrette rien; Car ma vie, car mes joies; Aujourd’hui, ça commence avec toi (No, I regret nothing; because my life, my joys; Today, they begin with you)” Edith Piaf
I could have titled this blog post “An American in Paris” or “Paris Je’taime” or some other cliché subject line, but instead I went with the famous song by Edith Piaf: a reminder that although much time passes, joy can be found in art where time remains only a concept.
It took all of 10 seconds for me to fall hopelessly in love with Paris.
There were little familiarities around the city that felt so much like New York City, only with more space and a lot more history.
Paris is magic and madness.
The night I arrived in Paris, after getting my backpack unstuck from the airport belt, despite fighting to keep my weary eyes open, I took a nighttime stroll after dinner.
My hostel was not too far from the Seine river and I felt as if it was a hike my tired feet could handle. Yet, me being me, I somehow managed to get lost (lost in the right direction, of course). I found myself outside a kind of opera house where a group of musicians were playing their happy tunes to a small audience comprised of local and foreign passerbys. The rue was wide and inviting, with many designer shops along both sides.
It was along this street I came across large arches which cars were passing under. Unable to see through to the other side, I followed suit and to my surprise, it opened to a large roundabout with the famous pyramid de le louvre majestically lit behind it.
As I turned to my right, there stood a large garden and the Eiffel tower peaking out just above the rows of buildings. I love to pretend I’m not a romantic, but everyone can see right through that lie (myself included). Overwhelmed with emotion, I teared up.
I know I’ve probably broken down in tears too many times already on this trip – but you have to understand:
I never thought I’d actually do these things. I knew I always wanted to, but to take this trip, to see Paris, to actually be here despite all the obstacles I’ve come across in my lifetime, in the last two years, I can’t help but be in constant awe and amazement.
The Eiffel tower is definitely smaller than I imagined it to be. I know it’s huge, I get it. But it still seemed so much smaller to me in person than I had dreamed it to be. Also, looking up at it, the tower wasn’t sparkling like I believed it would be – as all the movies, music videos, and photographs would have me believe. Nevertheless, it was still a sight to behold.
As I walked along the Siene, it all felt so unimaginable. In the mists of reading Alice in Wonderland, I couldn’t help feeling as if the whole experience must be a dream.
In essence, my whole trip is my own way of saying, “To hell with you world! I will do what I want!”
I remember reading a story from the “Humans of New York” blog. If you have never heard of the blog, check it out here. The post featured an older lady who reminisced on one of her many memories. When she was 19 years old, she and her friend were on their way to sail for Paris, France. As they were boarding, her friend’s lover cried out in a fit of passion that if she left, he wouldn’t wait for her. Overcome with emotion, her friend backed out of the trip to stay behind with her man. Inspired by the man’s accomplishment, the woman’s own lover told her the same. Only instead of staying behind, she responded “Don’t !” and boarded the ship.
I’m sure that woman had the time of her life.
You can find the original post here.
She’s the kind of woman I aspire to be. The Kate Winslet from Titanic, after she meets Leo. Someone excited about life and not afraid to embrace the color and flavor of it all.
At the edge of the park, I found myself at the doorstep of the grand ferris wheel. All things considered, I absolutely had to ride it. I’ve come to find that when faced with a decision, instead of asking why, I ask why not. If the answer doesn’t have any real justification, then I do it.
12 euros later, I was overlooking the whole of the city, lighting up the night’s sky. The fact I shared a cart with two rather rowdy Arab kids was no bother – I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
This was the Paris I had always dreamed about.
I exited the ferris wheel to continue my stroll back to the hostel. I honestly did not believe my night could get any better – and then I turned around.
The Eiffel tower began to glitter and sparkle and became everything I imagined it to be. I was wonderstruck. And this became my midnight in Paris. And although I didn’t get to travel back in time like Owen Wilson, in this moment I felt as if the whole world turned if only for me.
Now, I could tell you how every thing I ate was amazing. How I didn’t find Parisians to be rude, about my time in Versailles on free Sunday when I waited in line for an hour to get in and how it was so crowded and cold I didn’t enjoy myself at all.
I could tell you about stumbling upon Seur Coeur or the diversity of people that reside at Metro Rouge, or about my hunt for El Seed street art. I could even tell you about all the free champagne I got for attending the burlesque show alone.
But I won’t.
I won’t because not all adventures need to be shared at once. And the dreary midnight hour of Paris happened to be my favorite, and I’m afraid too much writing might wake me from this dream.