I will not be the first author to write about this particular love affair. Everyone attempts to capture the essence, at one point or another, of what it is to be consumed entirely by the love of one of the most beautiful cities on earth. Whether it is by a simple photograph, a short postcard to friends back home, or through a longer tome, Paris is a city that inspires us all to express our impressions of it. Some of the greatest authors, infatuated with the tangled streets and elegant cafés, abandoned everything they found familiar for their new lover. Painters lived menial existences while spending what money they had on canvas, paint, and a possible hit of absinthe to further their amorous expressions.
Sometimes your love of Paris starts out as lust. You run from corner to corner, attempting to see every beautiful curve, every capturing light, every possible color of the numerous monuments and works of art that this city has to offer. All you want to do is taste the garlic and butter in a snail's shell, the fresh strawberries, the pungent cheese. You want to consume wine every night so that the numerous varietals tickle your palette. When you stand on the Pont des Arts at night, wedged between the Louvre and the Académie française, even an ordinary wind can take your breath away. The city is laid before you, its lights beckoning you, vulnerable and lovely. Your first experience with Paris is quite comparable to the first sentiments one has for a new found lover. You want to spend every waking moment, taking every part of them in, using all five senses to learn and enjoy. The line between love and lust is easily confused, but it is exciting nonetheless.
It is upon returning visits, that lust transforms to love. You linger, slowly walking every street, and allowing your senses to become more keen. You discover new secrets about Paris: small corners in which to drink coffee or have a meal with a couple close friends. You come to enjoy the little things that make living in this city so intoxicating: picnics and sunbathing in the parks, watching couples young and old stroll along the Canal hand in hand, the smell of butter and yeast wafting from the bakeries. You come to love the elevated intonation that comes at the end of a welcoming "bonjour." While aspects that once captivated you, like the Eiffel Tower sparkling at the top of the hour or the sight of an illuminated Notre-Dame de Paris reflected in the Seine, you have become enraptured with the little idiosyncracies that you find as time passes.
One day it hits you. It's quite unpredictable, but it happens. You realize you love the city with every part of your heart, body, and soul. You love the vibrancy, the joie de vivre, the sounds, the smells. No matter where you go in the world, you will sometimes think back on what you miss about Paris. I realized these sentiments after buying scallops, onions, rice, and vegetables for dinner from the market at Denfert-Rochereau. The cold autumn winds were starting to replace the long days of summer, and I had been here for about 2 months. I saw the lion statue that sits in the middle of Denfert-Rochereau, and I stopped. I turned and looked about me, taking it all in. Tears welled up in my eyes, as often happens when we are consumed by too much beauty. Paris had finally become a part of me, a part of my life's story. My life could never again be told without Paris being included.
It's hard to leave something that inspires you and pushes you so much. Yet in the end, you'll always have Paris. I know no matter where life takes me, I'll always return to my one true love.