Until this moment, even the thought of translating my experiences into words has made me feel like slithering into a sewer. I don’t want to work any more! Mon pauvre cerveau! Of course, I only just finished my first day of classes, so I’m going to have to suck it up.
Ever since arriving in Paris, I’ve been stuck in what feels like a permanent state of drunkenness,suspended in that moment when you’re slumped over on the kitchen floor, whimpering “I want… I need… I want…” just before throwing up on yourself. In a straightforward sense, I really want a Target. Oh America, where everything is cheap and available! Usually I disdain this about American culture, but right now, I want… I want a phone (I can’t even…) I miss the dining hall where I can just swipe in and eat as much as I want. Today I ate tomato sauce with canned green beans on pieces of prepackaged toast… my friend let me have some of her cous cous. There’s really not much else I can say about that, except that my steadily mounting addiction to 45 centime espressos worries me. It’s just so easy!
Despite these little miseries, I am intensely happy to be here. I love New York, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something about Paris that moves me. On my second night here, I couch-surfed with a very nice man named François, who gave me a tour of Paris at night, walking me through the Marais, the Place des Vosges, the Hotêl de Ville, the Pompidou, the Louvre, the pont des Arts, and it went on and on. When we arrived at the Louvre, and I saw the tour Eiffel for the first time, sparkling, and the arc du carousel with the view down the central axis, it struck me just how lucky I am.
I have the entire school year to discover this place, a city that my imagination did not have room for. I’ve never had this type of experience, where a place so exceeds my expectations, and maybe I’m just being a naive romantic, but ah, Paris! There’s something magical about walking in the footsteps of history, and frequenting the haunts of my artistic and literary idols. My school is located in Montparnasse, and just yesterday my french teacher gave the class a tour of its famous cafés, the grave yard, the ateliers of Picasso and Man Ray, the cafés where Hemingway and Fitzgerald would spend there afternoons and evenings. It’s just so hard to believe.
I suppose one thing that’s been keeping me from writing is knowing that I will not be able to resist gushing. But tonight, I realized that that was a stupid reason. I love baguettes! I love Parisians who are in love with their city. I love the tourists who propose on the stairs of Sacre-Coeur, and the accordion player on the subway who asked for “monnaie-z” (emphasis on the Z) after he played. I love when the recorded woman on the metro says “attention à la marche en descendant du train.” I love that you can drink on the Seine and no one gives a shit. I love how quietly french people speak (maybe because pursing the lips helps pronunciation). I love that the city is just as lovely when the whether is awful. I love… I love… I love…
So after a couple of weeks of orientation madness, we’re finally settling into classes. The culture shock is not going to stop, but I feel as ready as I’ll ever be. Paris, we may have our battles, but I think we’ll make it through.