There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.
- Victor Hugo
Paris. City of lights, city of dreams realized.
Before our departure from the States, I would try to analyze how I felt or what I was anticipating about this move. I could not determine anything too specific, mostly because I was hoping Paris’s reputation was true- an experience that would be past description. And so, I can gladly testify that Paris is everything I couldn’t have dreamed: the place where elegance and progress meet; the city where the grand and the quaint gather to experience the fine and the beautiful.
Since September twentieth, I have experienced another level of living, a lifestyle that has shifted my framework of seeing the world. Paris has changed Couper and me from the inside out- an experience that already makes my hand gesture toward my heart when I describe what it has meant to us. We are living the most daring and romantic adventure we have yet lived. I mean this in every thrilling sense, where you are unsure of what is going to happen next. This could mean stumbling into a street orchestra performance in an unexpected (huge) secret garden with flowers and vines climbing all over the stone walls; other times it is the news that yet another apartment agency has declined our application. Both instances, among many others have brought tears to my eyes because of how beautiful and how difficult. This life- the one that you live with your heart wide open- is the most gloriously excruciating.
It is the aesthetic depth and global perspective, though, that is well worth the costs. The way Paris is designed (street layout and architecture) can only be experienced, not just imagined. The first photograph is the broad, heavy door to our current apartment right off Rue de Rivoli, tucked away from the busyness. I love walking to it after a long day when I turn that corner and find myself in the Parisian dichotomy: from the crowded street to the quiet pocket of what is currently home.
I can stand at the top of Tuileries, where families and friends of all ages are gathering around the fountains, and look down in a perfect line to the hustle and bustle of the Champs-Élysées into the Arc de Triomphe. Navigating the narrow stone ground of the Bastille market- vegetables, flowers, hanging meats, baguettes and pain au chocolates in large heaping quantities covering tables- fills me with the pulse of life. Cuisine of all kinds will catch my nose as I walk to and from my school that resides discreetly in the first arrondissement. Just last night Couper and I were wandering down through the Marais and decided on this hole-in-the-wall restaurant where I had no idea how I was about to consume an eggplant ratatouille that would leave me speechless- I will forever talk about that dish. Tonight I took a new line home on the metro that rides near the Eiffel Tower; it is elevated and flies through the city. I sat by the window and took in even more tremendous lights and people and buildings and places, covered in the glow of an almost sunset. All of this makes me feel so small in the best way.
I see people and cultures from a new perspective; my global understanding has expanded. Most of my classmates are from across the world. I have loved learning what they have learned, and seeing how a diverse group of creative people work together. Our Parisian community is forming quickly, and our new comrades are perfect characters. Le Peloton is our favorite coffee spot. We have become friends of the owners and friends of their friends. I am realizing more that city life lends to connections. Parisians are not as concerned as much with their "personal time", as much as they are befriending someone; people do not hesitate in having to check calendars or plans. I have found that the willingness for a rendezvous is of the moment, and effortless. I am enlightened at community done well here, where it is standard to invest in others in small and even in big ways.
It is good to be challenged, outside the security of a common language or practical things coming easily. It is even better to share this growth with Couper. It has been in the many prayers we have prayed; in the many glasses of wine we have shared together and with others, where new people and ideas and faith come to life. We believe more than ever that we are each made for a heavenly greatness, even if circumstance tells otherwise.
There are exciting projects in the future. Amidst the fast pace of school and finding a rhythm, I have caught a new wind of inspiration.
It is always worth it to pursue your dream. Forget what's comfortable, contend for growth. Much life is found there. These are things that Paris has taught me.
*photo of me by my wonderful husband, Couper.