There are moments in life when you just know that you are in the right place.
Paris was just that for me- the right place, at the right time.
I ended my vacation visiting a friend who now lives in Paris. Although I had been there in the past, I had mixed feelings leaving Paris the last time, and didn’t think I would return, but I really fell in love with it this time around.
There is something different about Parisian culture. Time seems to move slower, people really enjoy themselves, their drinks, their food, and their free time. Visiting from NY, the city that never sleeps, this was a welcome surprise.
My view of the city changed as I got to walk around neighborhoods that I had disregarded the last time I was there. It changed as I got to visit small restaurants which serve some delicious food. It changed as I got to sit in Luxembourg garden having some wine, bread and cheese with my friends. I don’t think that anything particularly changed with Paris since the last time I visited, however, I do believe that I began to appreciate it more and to cherish those moments of laughter, free time, and feeling as though time went by slowly.
Having friends permanently living in this city also helped. Their perspective on life, which we shared in NY, had changed dramatically in the months that they had been living in Paris. It was nice to see such a seamless transformation from someone who was trying to find themselves, into someone who felt settled in their own skin. It was nice to see that my friend was growing up and that things had inevitably changed for the good. It kind of felt like adulthood, something that I felt had been creeping in for all of my friends and I, but I had not seen so blatantly first hand.
Apart from facing adulthood, Paris is just beautiful. I went to see the Rodin exhibition at the Grand Palace and then headed over to the Pompidou to see some modern photography and art. It was nice to let my eyes feast on such beauty, to let my brain memorize photos and sculptures, and to feel unattached and free from everything back home. It felt as though Paris was constantly giving me this gift of pleasure and calmness, which I had not felt in a while .
Walking along the Seine, I not only thought about the past, but also about the future. I was able to process all of the things that had happened in the past few years. I was able to process the changes my body had made, the people that my body had loved, the emotions that grad school had made me repress. All of this was so therapeutic because most of the year, I had been repressing so many feelings about the life and love that I had lived and felt. It was a survival mechanism and although it helped me get through the end of my PhD, it wasn’t the healthiest survival mechanism. As I walked along the Seine, I allowed myself to feel the good and the bad. It wasn’t only about thinking about the past seven months, but also thinking about the future. I realized that I had not thought about the future in such a long time because, for better or worse, I didn’t know where I was going. However, that river made me think about what I wanted out of life, what I wanted out of the next five years of my life, and it allowed me to dream. Often on long walks, I would see the Eiffel Tower and I’d remind myself how fortunate I was to be there, and how much more I had to look forward to.
So, all I can say is that Paris and my friends, filled my heart before I had to head back home. This is exactly what I had been looking for during my three week trip. It was exactly what my soul needed, and I found it, unexpectedly, in Paris, a city that I had discounted a few years ago.
Paris gave me hope and love, and for that I will always be thankful for the week of unabashed joy and raw feelings spent there.