It’s Easter and I don’t know if you have a place where your heart feels at home at Easter, but mine’s Paris. Easter outside of Paris isn’t really Easter. Yesterday I woke up wishing I had wings so I could, at least, be in Europe to feel what spring is like there because to me Easter is the celebration of spring – the reawakening of everything. Then my dad called and said I should come home and visit the family and that was his Easter present to me. I won’t be able to go to Paris though, so instead I will write about her…
I met Paris when I was backpacking through Europe. We said hello to each other and didn’t think much of one another at first. I remember walking around the streets thinking there was nothing special about it. It just was. That was just it though – from then on Paris and I just were. You know, when you have friends that will just let you be? How you can come to them feeling happy or sad, on top of the world or drowning in sorrow, feeling absolutely comfortable? That’s Paris to me. No matter how foul a mood I am in, I will regain strength walking around her streets. I will invariably feel refreshed as I stand by Sacre Couer watching the sun rise or seeing the night lights sparkle across the city. I will get inspired walking around the Louvre getting ideas for movie scenes from all the artwork. I will stand by Da Vinci’s paintings pondering upon what his life was truly like and wondering why I am so obsessed by his persona? I will walk down Rue du Rivoli and take in the splendor and liveliness of the city, making me feel more splendid and alive. I will sit down to watch a movie on the Champs Elysée and pick up a walnut bread at Monoprix as I walk there. I will have lunch by the Seine and walk across the bridge by the Louvre to get to my fav hide away and eat some Haagen Dazs or have crèpes… Naturally, I will go to Le jardins du Luxembourg and sit basking in the sunshine watching the children play. Whilst in the neighborhood I will stop by Shakespeare and co. and once again decide they are way too expensive, but as always, worth the trip just to hang out there.
When I was backpacking through Paris I was 19. I knew nothing of the town apart from the fact that my grandma said the women wear the shortest skirts in the world (and so I became a lover of short skirts – between my grandma and Ally McBeal I was brainwashed) and Moulin Rouge was there. In fact, Moulin Rouge was the reason I was there. No, not the place, the movie. I watched it with a friend that fall and I got so inspired I decided it was time I did something with my life. I was having a gap year after high school and I was just working, which didn’t add up to all the interesting plans I had had during high school for my gap year. So after seeing the movie I told friends and family that on the 10th of December I was leaving (God knows where I got the date from) – if someone wanted to come, fine. I didn’t have a clue of where I was going, but I sat down and decided that it was going to be Belgium, France and Italy. Of course no one wanted to come with me because it was December. So I went on my own. I had a dream of throwing snowballs by the Eiffel Tower during Christmas, so why not?
On Christmas Eve I had two things on my itenary – the Eiffel Tower (from which I called friends and family to say Merry Christmas) and the Swedish church. After my visit to the Swedish church I decided to get out of the metro at Pigalle because a friend had told me it was like Soho and I loved Soho. Pigalle is NOT like Soho. And one really should not get out there at night unless you know where you are going. I mean, you should just know Montmartre is what I’m trying to say. I do now. I didn’t then. Of course I ended up by the Moulin Rouge and spent quite some time trying to figure out where the elephant was? (It burnt down way back when…) Then I went by an Irish Pub and decided to go inside. I spent the night playing pool with a Journalist from Le Monde. I didn’t realize that the metro stops going at one hour or another, so I had to spend the night on the Journalist’s couch (I repeat: couch…it might have been a bed, but you get my drift…).
The Journalist told me about his many travels – what it was like seeing the war, i.e. being a war correspondent. Now he was covering politics, but he would never be the same after the wars he had seen. He also told me that if you keep traveling around after a certain point in life, you will never stop. I smiled at it back then – of course I would settle down somewhere some day. I don’t smile so much at it anymore. I have my heart in France, my biz venture in New York, my roots in Sweden, my friends in London and my life in LA…and an urge to travel all over…
The Journalist also asked me if I was looking for work? “Yes,” I said. I didn’t know why. I just said so.
At the youth hostel I then met an American and an Australian and I really enjoyed their company after two lonely weeks in Belgium. So instead of going to Italy I stayed in Paris with my new-found friends and looked for a job. I found one too, so I called my dad to say I was moving to Paris. Any crazy artist gotta spend time in Paris, right? My dad, knowing me, just went “OK.” (I was hoping for a more dramatic reaction, but he is simply too used to me…I get crazy ideas and I am as stubborn as a mule – if something isn’t possible, I have to try…I don’t know if it’s a curse or a blessing.)
My first day back in Paris after gathering some belongings in Sweden was interesting. I broke my credit card. Back then I didn’t realize you could wire money rather quickly so I just had my dad send me a new card and prayed that I would sort this one out. I did. I met a girl at my hostel, she paid my hostel bill and the advance on a flat we found. I think we moved in the same night or the next morning.
My flatmate was brilliant – an Oxford graduate and wannabe writer. She volunteered at Shakespeare and Co. and took writing classes and I did the homework assignments also. Writing this blog reminds me of that – crazy writing projects. Things you never thought to write about, or never thought to write about in this or that way. (If anyone has an idea for a blog post – please contact me…)
I love words, but I don’t know if I can do Paris justice. If you have never walked through a fog swept Ile Saint Louis, or had a crèpes by Pigalle, if you have never watched the sunrise by Notre Dame or had your morning croissant in Montmartre, if you have never bought fresh veg in the market by Ledru Rollin or sat in the sunshine by a statue in Le jardin du Luxembourg, if you have never seen the moon from Sacre Coeur or had mint tea in Le Marais…I’m not sure I can describe it to you… Paris in and of itself is a treasure. As Hemingway said: you may be poor, but you still have Paris.
Till this day Paris owns my heart – I don’t know where I am meant to live, or work, or go next…I am a gypsy at heart, but part of that heart will, forever, be in Paris.