I’ve created a bit of a firestorm. For those of you who aren’t friends with me on Facebook, in a bit of a Loire Valley wine-induced haze the other night, I posted that I will be moving to Paris. As a result, I got 54 likes, a handful of “FOR REAL’s!?!!” and “STOP IT’s!!!” and several comments applauding my decision. While the details of said decision are not even close to confirmed and there is a lot to figure out, I do want to make this happen and keep my (albeit alcohol-induced) word. And not just because I’m a woman of her word.
Here’s the thing: As I’ve been here for seven days, my fourth visit to the City of Light has proven that this city is in me. Its pain au chocolates, its wrought-iron balconies, its quaint passages and impasses, its Space Invader alien tile street art, its easy-to-navigate, yet smelly, stuffy metro, its late-day light—The light! It really is a thing here!—its Je ne sais quoi. Any way which I look at it: J’adore. Je l’aime. C’est mon amour.
The other night, over several bottles of chilled, white, organic wine, my friend Adeline tried explaining to me how to properly use terms of endearment in French; the difference between saying “adore” vs. “aimer” or using “amour.”
“It’s complicated,” she said.
Isn’t love always?
And so it may be complicated to figure out a visa, and a flat and health insurance, and a bank card, and oh yeah, regular writing and editing gigs to stay afloat in this tres expensive city. It will be lonely at times. Because of the language barrier. Because of the absence of good friends and my family. But 2015 is my year (or so says the psychic I saw on my 35th birthday) and maybe that year is meant to happen in Paris.
Because, actually, things do happen to me in Paris. Like good dates. (Yes, dates!) Like navigating the streets on bike and ending up exactly where I want to be before the free 30-minute limit is up. Like picking up the language enough for locals to think I’m French. Like yoga classes! Really, really good yoga classes where although they’re taught in French, Je comprends and I SWEAT! Like happening upon a Portuguese restaurant near my flat just days after having been in Portugal. Like GOOD HAIR DAYS. Seriously, it’s 80 degrees here and in the 26 days I’ve been away so far, I can actually let my hair down and feel like myself. Not a frizzy, unkempt version of it.
I am inspired to write in Paris. Everywhere I go, I jot down thoughts and ideas. It may be a cliché, and I may become a statistic of yet another writer who moves to Paris, keeps a blog and maybe writes a book. But it’d be an honor to follow in the footsteps of all the other creative artists who had clearly seen the same thing I do in this city. Plus, I’m trying to do the same thing in New York, so why not switch it up?
Things both matter so much and don’t matter at all in Paris. The smile I get from a guy on the metro is everything. And yet, it’s just a smile. Some recognition. NBD.
I can do nothing all day, which let’s be honest for me always means something (see: find cool street art, walk through Paris Plages, etc.), and still feel accomplished.
I can do laundry wrong by putting the soap in the “pre-wash” section and drop off dry cleaning, but arrive to pick it up after the “pressing” place has closed and not go apeshit. In fact, I smile and still get a sense of unrivaled satisfaction. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on what I’m not doing or eating or seeing. It’ll all be there. Today and tomorrow. And if not, c’est la vie.
Admittedly, all these sensations could be the newness; the allure of the unknown and the not-mine and the haven’t been-there-done-that. But I travel a lot, and have settled in new places for an extended period of time (London 2013!), and yet no other place has quite taken a hold of me like this city. (New York notwithstanding, bien sur.) Buenos Aires and Antigua, Guatemala have come close. They’ve taken their bites. But Paris just swallows me whole.
It doesn’t need to be a drastic move. No furniture buying or wall painting or art-hanging. Give me some space with a desk, some light and a bed, and I’ll be good to go.
I will take it slow. See what happens. Be non-committal. Practice “in-between” living.
But first, I will come home because I’m told the best way to find a flat is word of mouth and everyone worth speaking to in Paris is now gone for a month. (Another reason I love Paris: A WHOLE MONTH OFF.) Also, I miss my family and friends (and their babies) and want to see about doing this right. Get my finances in order. Pack appropriate clothes and shoes and handbags. I want to practice my French and have already signed up (during that same drunken haze) for the next “advanced beginner” session at Idlewild Books, which as luck would have it begins just five days after I’m home.
So yeah, love is complicated.
Until, maybe, you just uncomplicate it. And instead of describing it through language, you live it any which way that feels right. And maybe, just maybe, that’s in Paris.