The following Paris series is from the journal I kept during my trip:
I think I finally understand the Paris obsession.
We have just arrived at our hotel after having been awake for the past 24+ hours. Clarissa and I opened the door to find the most charming little room accessorized with a floor-to-ceiling window, a mini chandelier, and a view of one of Paris’ numerous Gothic churches. The church provides an enchanting focal point that commands our attention, but fortunately I tore my eyes away to peek slightly beyond to see an intricate dome barely cresting the top of one of the church’s spires (a dome that would soon be known to me as the top of the Pantheon!). My immediate reaction is to open our secluded little sanctuary to the world and let Paris in. The sights of the Latin Quarter (our home for the next four days), the sound of the bells, the musical French language floating up with sweet intoxication into my unassuming vantage point.
Driving through Paris for the first time was everything; a dream and a nightmare, a joy and a pain, beautiful and repulsive.
Like any great city, the jewels are, in a sense, quarantined to a few square miles, buried beneath layers of cast off businesses, forgotten apartments, and their somewhat miserable looking inhabitants. They might rebuttal my praises of this grandeur. But grandeur is often reserved for a city’s guests and is replaced by a certain amount of repression for those that remain, fixed in their city and their tired views of it. I know this feeling. It’s the feeling I get after I have spent too long in Portland. I have to leave, for when I come back my eyes are no longer tired. I can look upon the city fondly and with a fair amount of delighted exasperation, exasperation that would border on malice if experienced in conjunction with an extended amount of Portland rain.
But, happily, I am a stranger to this place, and the Parisian grandeur does not fall upon unenthusiastic eyes. Every second that passes presents a beautiful snapshot into a world that makes me want to lavishly cast my money towards things I do not need. Each building draws me in, and begs the passers by to peek through its windows. The sky is grey, but the city bursts through it with every color I know and dares me to name the new colors it generates, created for me by my kaleidoscopic town.
My reverie is grossly brought to an end as our French cab driver spouts off some angry sounding remarks. We had fallen prey to side street construction and were about to be treated to a beautiful display of French patience. “Oh God….” I think to myself as the cab driver lurches forward to “tap” the worker out of the way. More angry comments, this time from both parties. The exchange is drown out now by an exceedingly bad compilation of American music, music from an era filled with peace, love, bumming around the California coast, and probably a fair amount of weed. I have heard some strange remixes in my days, but it takes a special breed of desperation to remix the Beach Boys with jazzy French beats and “sultry” interjections.
As I pondered this disastrous cultural hybrid, my stranger eyes caught glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, shrouded in clouds, an elegant dagger as soft as it was severe. I could feel the butterflies in my stomach active with excitement. The only fitting description is likening it to falling in love for the first time, completely alive with delicate clarity. But for now, I must leave you, it’s adventure time…let us pursue this new love.
To Hope and Madness, Lauren.