Wednesday, June 3, 2009

All Good Things Must Come to an End

The grass is always greener, goes the expression. My last few weeks in Paris have been amazing and unlike the first four months completely. With the end of school, I finally didn’t have project after paper after exam hanging over my head, and I could just go out and enjoy Paris every night. After all the stress of school and feeling like I might fail, I actually ended up with good grades. This also coincides with the fact that it took me that long to get over my timidity of speaking French. While I still wouldn't say I'm fluent, my French skills definitely improved and when asked directions on the street in French, I've been able to answer correctly every time without pausing. These last weeks I’ve met some really great Parisians and going-out partners. I wouldn’t change the first four months, though, but I’m so happy to end my Paris experience on such a high note.

The amount of tourists in Paris starting a month ago is literally astounding. ASTOUNDING. I had a few visitors stay with me in my last few weeks, including my sister Julie. She’s doing a business program in Italy for the summer, and she along with seven American friends came to Paris for the French Open. Julie and I are total opposites and we historically hadn’t gotten along, but she and I had a great time together, showing her my favorite stuff in Paris and having someone familiar around.

Brother and sister in Paris.

I’m writing this two days being back in Boston. I was really ready to be back in the States last week, back to reality, back to being able to explain my thoughts fully in my own language, back to not apologizing for my bad French every time I met someone. It’s nice not feeling stupid again. There were times in Paris I wanted to grab people and say, “I’m not stupid! I swear!” But there’s already a laundry list in my head of all the things I’ll miss.

I miss the signs at metro and bus stops that let you know how long you’ll have to wait until the next train or bus. It’s so simple but so ingenious and every city should have it. I miss that there is a cafĂ© or brasserie on every single corner in Paris, and you can only get a coffee or French fries, but you can stay there for as long as you want. There isn’t a waitress coming to bug you every five minutes or people standing in a line waiting for your table. I miss the bread, oh the bread, so good. Since being back in the States, I literally haven’t been able to eat, but I think it’s because I got sick on the plane ride back. I miss bisous-ing. I miss the people watching. I miss looking at attractive people. I miss things being a normal portion. I feel so undersized here, not like a real-sized person. Even using a big tube of toothpaste makes me feel like a little kid.

So as I was so excited to be back in the states, I now miss Paris so much. It’s incredible for me to read back on entries where I didn’t like Paris. But Paris is just a fairy tale, and now I’m back in reality: a college graduate looking for a job in an economic recession. Americans romanticize Paris and France so much, in movies and TV and commercials and literature, and France works hard on propagating that image. They are a very proud people, but they have good reason for it. Living in Paris has let me confront this romantic vision that I’ve had my whole life about the city. I no longer think, “Well, if I lived in Paris, my life would be totally different…” This once in a lifetime experience will probably never happen to me again, but as Hemingway said, "Wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast."

1 comment:

  1. Wow!
    You are true to a very large extent. Paris is an amazing city from what I have read and seen. I would like to visit it too one day... it's every french-lovers dream!

    I really enjoyed reading your nostalgic piece.