Paris: Reflections

Paris, as a whole city, is undeniably, unabashedly and unequivocally French. Unlike the other major cities to which I have travelled, Paris has successfully(for the most part) beat back the spread of Americanization throughout the world. It, and its people have held sturdily to their culture, and chosen to revel in their superb way of life. English was not the dominant language spoken. French, as it should, holds that distinction. Not only do they avoid absorbing the American culture because of its general inferiority, but they remain rooted in French traditions because they love them. In an almost narcissistic manner the French adore their way of life and revel in it. For the perhaps shy and reserved outsider, one who could very well fear the new and different, the self-loving French can seem put-offish or rude, but they are, in fact, some of the nicest people I have met in my travels.
Paris is a place for the adventurous traveler. Yes, it is very tourist friendly, but the only true way to experience the magic and Parisian aura is to not fear that which you may not fully understand. Courtney and I, I feel, tried very hard to experience Parisian life as a Parisian would (except for the site-seeing). We did our best to not speak English and always looked out for something new and local to do. We enjoyed the magic of the language barrier, which is much easier to deal with when you have another person around. You still feel helpless, utterly helpless, when you cannot speak or understand a language, but it is MUCH MUCH more frightening and disconcerting to experience that language barrier on your own because you have no one with whom to share discomfort. Courtney and I dealt with our ignorance with a combination of sign language and laughter. When people would speak to us in French we would look at each other and start to laugh because it was the only natural reaction. We didn’t understand a word of it and for some reason it was funny to us. Even the Parisians would join us in the laughter because we at least tried to speak words of French which I assume they appreciated and would then speak to us in English. Contrary to popular belief the French are very nice.

The Seine

Besides the wonderful people, the city of Paris is the most beautiful city to which I have been, as I have said earlier. Still, life finds its true definition in the company which you keep. For me a more than significant explanation for my adoration of Paris is that I spent a week there with Courtney, which for us was our first real solo vacation and it surpassed anything for which I could have hoped. The entire week I felt permeated by a sense of contentment. Life  is meant to be joyful, not in the Hedonistic chase of fleeting pleasures, in the Aristotelian pursuit of a permanent contentment where one could look back at his life and be happy with that which he did. Living in Paris for a week, side-by-side with the person who makes me happiest brought that never departing sense of happy.

Airport Picture

For a week Courtney and I were independent of any considerations except for those which we wanted to do. This, again, was a first for us. We have technically spent longer periods of time together, but never where neither of us had any worries except for the other. We had no one to whom to answer except for each other. We lived life for the joy of living, which is a privilege that I’ll never be able to exclaim enough. Hopefully one day I can make enough money to provide my kids with the same priceless experience, because that week in Paris was the best week in my life.

Pigeon over Lentils cooked in Foie Gras

In summary the food, the art, the culture, the people, the architecture, the city and most importantly the company combined to allow me the experience of a lifetime. I miss Paris. I love that city and will undoubtedly return as soon as possible. It’s a city meant for lovers because everything about it screams romance. Happiness breeds romance and in such a city where everything makes you happy, how could you not feel the love? I’m the most grateful person in the world that I had the fortune of enjoying this week in Paris. I am an extraordinarily fortunate child. Thank you for making it possible.

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