Sunday, May 30, 2010

Paris

I have skipped many Senegal posts in favor of diving into one on Paris, being my current location. Although it could be seen as a bad sign for recounting Senegal stories I hope that this will get me back in the habit of writing so that I can can come back to Senegal later. We will be heading up North tomorrow on our way to Brittany.

It's nice to be back in Paris, and nice to have the feeling of Paris being a place that I come back to. Like my arrival in Strasbourg a few weeks ago, which felt like a bit of a homecoming, stepping off of the TGV into Gare de L'Est is like greeting an old friend. Hello, Paris!

My parents arrived a week ago, on the 23rd of May. It has been a wild ride since then with lots of sightseeing, metro tickets, museum visits, walking, friends and excellent food. Coline stopped by for a night on her way to Nepal and her mother Anny came with to meet my parents for the first time. We weren't able to totally escape the stress of the past few weeks but in the end everyone had a good time despite the strange weather from Strasbourg which seems to have followed me to Paris. Les temps keep going between extraordinarily dismal and rainy to beautiful blue skies.

I haven't seen the city change much since my first visit with the LC group just over a year ago but my experience of it changes a little with every visit. This time around the visit for me has been shaped by several friends who are in town and who I might not see again for a while, namely Rachel, Jessamy and Lorrain. We also spend a nice evening with some of Mom's coworkers, Laurie, Lise and France, with whom we went out for couscous near Laurie's appartment. The communal meal was a nice reminder of Senegalese cuisine/culture, especially since my host family in Dakar served couscous once or twice a week. I shared some stories from Senegal and we spent a long time talking about differences between languages and French and American cultures, especially in the context of intercultural relationships (an endlessly interestingly subject since we all had ties to France and the United States). I have been aware of the French thread in my life for a long time but I am finding that it runs much deeper than I was aware of. My life is now completely, hopelessly and wondefully intertwined with France and French and no matter what I do I don't think I will ever be able to escape it.

Mostly Paris just feels the same to me, timeless and beautiful and perfectly flawed. As we were discussing the other day, Paris is strongly romanticized by americans, and I am no exception. I just can't shake it. I am not drawn to the city when I am away from it but once I am here it's like my fling with the city just picks up right where it left off. From it's collossal monuments and fascinating history to its 500 euro/month ten square meter appartments and hordes of tourists, Paris is Paris and just can't be anything else.