That magic moment.

These first couple days in Paris have been so full. Full of catching up with old friends, full of running around sorting out administrative details, full of wearily dragging myself around this beautiful city as my body refuses to adjust to the time difference. So full and still so wonderful. Here are some glimpses at the last couple days.Paris2014-1 Paris2014-2 Paris2014-3 Paris2014-4 Paris2014-5 Paris2014-6 Paris2014-7 Paris2014-8 Paris2014-11Paris2014-13

Paris taught me to love cities.

In my soul, I am not a city person. I grew up in the country, went to college in a little town in nowhere Michigan, and then flew to Paris with no idea about city living. It is the city that taught me about navigating public transportation, delighting in small living spaces, and making the entire metropolitan area a place I could call my own. It is the city that set my standard for cities, which is why London and New York, while boasting many wonderful things, couldn’t compete. Too big. Too tall. Too functional. Too unlike my imagined version of themselves.

But now, another city has become home and educated me in additional ways of city living. For the first time, my return to this city has another city that stands as a silent comparison in daily life. I revel in the Paris metro wait of a minute or two, versus DC’s lovely yet highly inefficient routine waits of 12-15 minutes. I delight in the aged buildings from all centuries that crowd together versus DC’s carefully planned and orchestrated flow. And yet, I also see things that I didn’t notice before, things like the trash and metro smell that are absent from DC’s relatively pristine conditions.

I’ll be honest, I felt a little disheartened at some of the things I now notice. That, combined with some administrative annoyances and my exhaustion (seriously body, it isn’t that big of a time difference – what is the deal???) had me in dire need of a Paris moment yesterday, one of those magic moments that floods me with irrepressible love for this city.

Ask and ye shall receive.

I spent a good bit of yesterday afternoon reading at a café in Saint-Germaine, nobly trying to continue through the reading list for my PhD exams. Afterwards, I just set off, ambling back to where I am staying, wandering across the Ile de la cité and down the Rue de Rivoli, turning into the colonnades and courtyards of the Louvre. It started raining and as I ducked into the courtyard, I heard it, that beautifully mournful swelling sound that a cello makes, echoing off the aged stone walls of the Louvre. I slipped into the colonnade and listened to the man playing.

And then I promptly burst into tears. Not the little kind, but the bordering on the ugly-cry, snot from your nose kind. After a couple songs, the cellist looked up and saw me blubbering and as there was no one else passing through, he just laid aside his instrument and came to give me a big hug, while I just continued crying and stammering things about “the beauty” and “the music” and “the gift to humanity” into his shoulder. After a rather convoluted talk that involved Saussurian linguistics (“Between sign and signifier, there is interpretation and that is where the music takes us!”), he went back to playing and I went back to crying calmly in a corner, before finally walking home as the rain lifted and the feeblest little sunset peeked through the clouds.

And I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect moment to remind me why I love this city, this beautiful, exhausting, mysterious, dirty, and perfect city.


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9 Responses to That magic moment.

  1. Jess says:

    1. I am going to be living vicariously through you until you return, so please keep postin’ away on instagram and sharing stories with us. 2. Paris is one of my favorite places in the world and I felt like when I was there, everything seemed more colorful and vibrant. 3. I am still beyond impressed that you’re working on your PhD. We should talk school and academics sometime.

    • Hannah says:

      1. Ok, thanks – I worried that I was instaslamming people and that kind of stressed me out.
      2. TRUTH. YES. AMEN.
      3. Do not be impressed — I keep on thinking they will realize what joker I am and throw me out. But we should probably still fly across the country to meet each other and talk about it.

  2. slesser1013 says:

    love your photos 🙂

  3. Laura says:

    Your words paint pictures, and I just love reading them. I have been to Paris once, and absolutely fell in love with it. I finally understood what all the hype was about. I can only imagine the love that grows after living there for an extended period of time. I’m sure knowing the language only deepens that love even further. I hope you enjoy your month in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Yes! Thank you for sharing about crying!! That probably sounds so silly but I think so often it can be easy to cover up things like that or just not mention them at all. But they are just as much a part of the story and what makes it beautiful. Blessings!

    • Hannah says:

      I am SUCH a crier!!! There is actually a post somewhere in the archives about everything that makes me cry… and it is basically everything!

  5. Pingback: Paris with my people. | The Art in Life

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