17 July 2008
So my love affair with Paris continues.
It's funny that I don't even feel like a tourist -- I know the metro, the good places to eat, and secret spots that only native Parisiens know. Like I've already said, I feel more at home here that I do back in Canada. How strange, since I only lived here for 18 months.
Yesterday, on my third wedding anniversary I took Mr. JB on a tour of my Paris. He saw my old neighbourhood, the outside of my old apartment building (which is being renovated so he couldn't really see my window), my bakery, my grocery store, my metro stop.... It seemed endless! My ever-patient husband was getting information overload, but he listened intently to all of my little anecdotes about each and every thing.
It brings me great pleasure that I could show him a part of my life that preceeds him. I know that if it wasn't for Paris toughening me up, I wouldn't be the person that he fell in love with. I arrived in Paris a very naive 25 year old. I'd been away from home for university, but I always had the (mostly dysfunctional) safety net of my family. In Paris I learned that I had to stand up for myself, to be assertive and most of all, to be true to who I am. Not only did I learn how to stand up and defend myself in all sorts of situations -- being called horrible names since I am a visible minority, being tough with students that didn't give a rat's ass about learning English, getting my work permit even though a French bureaucrat didn't feel like giving it me -- I learned that I could be good on my own. I didn't need anyone to make me whole and that I could rely on myself for what I needed. Don't worry, I'm not going to run off and become some bohemian blog writing ex-pat, I love my life back in Canada. But before Paris, I wasn't really sure of who I was.
I took Mr. JB up the Eiffel Tower (although all I really wanted to do was laze around at a cafe and watch people go by, but I couldn't take the poor man to Paris and not take him!) and it was so neat to be able to tell him what everything was. It's a spectacular view (although better at night) and it is quite romantic. I witnessed more than one marriage proposal while visiting the Tour!
Tonight we went over to a friend's house for dinner. When I lived in Paris I not only worked teaching English at a university, I also gave private lessons. It was a great tax-free way to make pocket money! I gave lessons to a little boy, A and also picked up his little sister, M, from school on Thursdays. I saw M the last time I was in Paris five years ago, but I hadn't seen A since I left in 2001. It was so wonderful to see them! A has just returned from spending a year in North Carolina and although he didn't really enjoy it, his English is great. His mom did mention more than once that it was because of my lessons, but I know I can't take all of the credit. A and M's mom also suggested that we do a house exchange -- our place in Southern Ontario for theirs just outside of Paris. Now that would be awesome!!!! Their place has a beautiful view of the Eiffel tower and is only 20 minutes from the centre of town. I guess I'll have to start saving my pennies as soon as we get back!
So tomorrow is our last day in Paris. I always get so sad when I leave this city. I always feel like I leave a part of my heart here. The one place that I had to take Mr. JB was my happy place. The photo above is the name of the boulevard in my old neighbourhood that I would walk on the way to the RER station to work. One day I was walking towards the station and the sunlight was peeking through the trees and as I walked along the boulevard I felt so at peace. I could hear birds chirping and kids playing the in background. Every time I feel sad or stressed I think back to that spring day when I realized that I lived in the most beautiful city in the world and that it was all at my fingertips to experience.
I will always carry the image of that perfect walk in my heart -- it's gotten me through so many painful things. If I could package my happy place I would be a millionaire and there would be fewer sad people in the world.
I'm sending you all big, big kisses in Paris. I hope that I will have internet in Normandy. If not, you'll have to wait until the south of France for an update!