Paris: An ode

Hey, Paris. You’ve been weighing on my mind since our visit. It was intoxicating. We got intoxicated. We walked…a lot. We ate…a lot. Let’s remember…

The first thing to notice is your smell. It’s…different. Uniquely Paris. Like most things in the City of Love and Light.

There are a few distinct flavors that you can pick out right away. Food. Trash. Dog poop. The River Seine — the liquid heart that courses through your core.

The most distinguishable scent is bread. Bakeries crowd every corner. That stereotype about your kinsfolk walking down the streets eating baguettes? It’s true. For breakfast. For lunch. For dinner. For a mid-afternoon snack. They eat bread all the time; and for good reason. It’s SO good! Peak bread wafting hits about twice per day — once early in the morning, from about 6 to 7 a.m., when the trucks deliver the morning shipments to all of the stores. The other is in the afternoon, between 3 and 4 p.m., when people snag their loaves on the way to pick up their kids from school.

But there’s more to you than that special fragrance cocktail. Much more.

Your sidewalks are crowded with people who are never in a hurry. They take their time getting from place to place, often stopping off at their favorite cafe or brasserie for a cup of coffee or glass of wine. No matter the time; they’ll get to where they’re going sure enough.

Your narrow streets are a different story, Paris. When the people mount themselves atop wheeled machinery, that’s when things get hectic. And dangerous. The wailing of sirens is never far off — count on hearing the “wee-woo’s” at least once per fifteen minutes. The Scooter Brigade — the gaggle of motorcyclists and moped cruisers who always seem to travel in packs — are the most daring of your countrymen. They rule the streets and the sidewalks and the alleys and the corners. Always — ALWAYS — wait for the go-ahead from the Green Man on the crosswalk signal before walking.

Your life story is fascinating, Paris. How you became who you are is a tale of determination, of revolution and enlightenment. It’s a tale of turmoil and destruction and terror. A tale of ambition and emotion. You were always the world’s most complicated rebellious child. And you know what? It made you who you are today. You’re full of triumph and legend and elegance. Your people are proud, and they should be. You’re a rose among thorns, a City of Love and Light prevailing above hate and darkness. Being with you, Paris, is to be away from the rest of the world.

You’re so full of love, Paris. Tattooed on one of your walls in a local district late at night were the words “Love Wins.” You get it. Your people get it. We felt it there with you, Paris. We saw it in your street art, and on the blue tile wall with scribbles that say “I love you” in 250 different languages. You’re such a romantic, Paris. But I agree with you now more than ever. To accept, to feel, to embrace and to love is to win. Every time.

We are in awe of your grand spectacles, Paris. Every building feels like it should be photographed and displayed as the epitome of craftsmanship and beauty, but being awestruck is a hell of a thing. It makes you forget how to reach for the camera. Instead we soak it all in, Paris. We admire the intricate designs of your banks and museums, of your hotels and your mansions. Every layer of brick and mortar is a work of art worthy of its own exhibition. Exhibition.

Hey, that’s how you got that distinguishing steel birthmark, isn’t it? It sure is something to see. One of my fondest memories of you was sitting at the base of the tower, in an empty fountain that two months later would be filled with water and admired itself. You remember, Paris? We sat there and stared at you and your magnificent display of metal and sunlight for hours. We bought an overpriced bottle of champagne from a man with a bucket — 20 Euro marked down from 25 — and watched as the sun disappeared behind your pièce de résistance and you brought us the sparkling stars in the sky and on the tower.

And remember the guys selling all of the knick-knacks by the tower? That was a riot. One of your enthusiastic entrepreneurs tried selling us a selfie stick, for which we just happened to be in the market. We talked him all the way down to 5 Euro, only to walk away without a deal. Then we returned minutes later, minds changed, and purchased from a different tradesmith. “My brotha,” the original salesman said. “You no good.” I know, dude. I know.

© O.Taris

Our lives changed forever because of you, Paris. We took a trip to one of your most beautiful hidden gems — the Parc des Buttes Chaumont — and decided to spend an eternity together while we admired your views and the temple of love that crowned the gardens. We owe a lot to you for making us see the beauty in everything. For helping us appreciate culture and sophistication. For showing us the beauty in a warm, flaky croissant and a bitter cup of coffee. For making us think “Safety first” when we cross one of your streets (thanks, Green Man) or dodge the pigeons (aka Trash Doves). For allowing us to feel the wanderlust as we made our way through the Latin Quarter, where we indulged on a freshly prepared savory crepe (jambon et fromage FTW) before walking past all of the street vendors. We learned a lot by hanging out with you, Paris. That’s something we’ll never forget.

And one more thing before I go, Paris. Could you send me a box of macarons? I brought 100 Euro-worth back with me, but I didn’t seem to get my fill. But none of the rose-flavored variety. Those are gross. Stop making those.

J’taime and au revoir, Paris. Until our next adventure.

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