16 November 2010

Come on with the rain, I've a smile on my face!

Sitting there, alone in a foreign country, far from my job and everyone I know, a feeling came over me. It was like remembering something I'd never known before  or had always been waiting for, but I didn't know what. Maybe it was something I'd forgotten  or something I've been missing all my life. All I can say is that I felt, at the same time, joy and sadness.  But not too much sadness, because I felt alive. Yes, alive.  That was the moment I fell in love with Paris. And I felt Paris fall in love with me.  - Paris, Je t'aime
I can't tell you how many times I've started blog entries over the past ten days without finishing them.  Sometimes, I've simply uploaded a photo, saved the entry ... And promptly discarded it.  The truth is, I am a little short on words at the moment.  For someone keeping a blog entitled Cherchant le Mot Juste, I'm not doing a terrific job of it.  Paris leaves me speechless, that's all.  
After two months of living here, I am still in awe of everything that I encounter in this incredible city.  Today I sat at a café near my school, eating a pain au chocolat and drinking a petit café.  Even the most mundane activity, such as sitting at a café and people watching during some precious free time, fills me with the utmost pleasure.  Despite my best efforts to look and act parisienne most of the time, I can't help but smile when I see a man walking by eating a baguette that's tucked under his arm... Followed by a woman chewing a croissant and smoking a cigarette ... Followed by a child with chocolate smeared all over his happy little French face.  Scenes like these are what I will miss most.
Perhaps I'm wrong about that though.  Perhaps what I'll miss most is turning off my computer every night, bidding bon soirée to my coworker and to my boss, and turning the corner away from my office to the banks of the Seine, the sparkling lights of the Eiffel Tower catching my eye as I rush to board the metro.  I pinch myself during moments like these, which occur more frequently than I can believe.

My rainy walk home from work on Monday night.
It's time to admit to something here.  It is cliché and silly, and it's almost impossible to describe.  The few sentences from Paris, Je t'aime with which I began this entry are the most applicable I can think of, and the closest I can come to capturing the feeling I've had lately.  To be brief, all I know is that the feeling that I have while I'm here is not one that can be found in the Streets of Philadelphia,  as wonderful and comforting as they are.  I'm not finished with Paris yet, and my remaining thirty-two days won't change that sentiment-- I'm certain.  Taking a walk around the very wet, very rainy, and very very windy Luxembourg Gardens the other day, my heart swelled.  Even at its worst, Paris is the best.  Little pieces of history and art are everywhere in Paris, and a little (or a lot) of rain can't detract from the incredible value of stumbling upon these moments.

Just outside my apartment on one particularly blustery morning, the Canal St.Martin.
Tuileries Gardens
Palais du Luxembourg, the seat of the Senate
Enough dreamy reflection.  I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful visit from my mother this past weekend.  A seasoned Parisian tourist, she was content to sit on café sidewalks and walk through the rainy streets for as long as it took for us to catch up.  There are some things that Paris doesn't offer me, and the comforts of home and family make up a huge portion of that.  We talked, we ate, and we ate.  It was so nice to see her in real life, rather than the rather grainy Skype-y image that I've become so used to.
Quelle parisienne!
Windy rainy day outside the Louvre.
As you may have guessed from the rain in every single picture posted, the weather in Paris has been atrocious-  Today was the first time it was really sunny in more than eight days.  My mother was a trooper however, like the true Irishwoman she is she braved the horrible rainy wind all the way from the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe.  Bravo, maman.  She is now nestled away at our house in the Loire valley, where she will shortly be joined by her sister, and then my sister next week.
Speaking of my sister, my fabulous ginger-haired seventeen year old sister is coming to paris oh-so-soon!  Finished with her college applications (I have never felt more old), she arrives in Paris on Saturday morning.  I am so excited to be silly with her like only sisters can, though I know that we will both be missing our older sister Sinéad.  Sinéad returns home from South Africa in a matter of weeks, which is incredible since she's been there for the year.   Seeing Megan this weekend will make me a million times more excited for Christmas, when all five members of my family will be together again at last (aw).
My job, incidentally, is fabulous.  It is a dream come true.  I'm getting some really great experience, I'm speaking French, and I can see the Eiffel tower from the office window.  The work can be really challenging, but my boss is really kind and eager to help me-- you'll be glad to hear I'm not stuck in a Devil-Wears-Prada-boss-from-hell scenario.   Though she probably does wear Prada.  After two weeks at work, my fingers are thoroughly confused, as they are now bilingual and can use French OR American keyboards ... They just can't really keep them straight.  There is only one other girl in the office with me, and she has been so friendly and kind to me.  She even invited me to a soirée at her friends' apartment last week!  It was a fantastic night, and though I was by far the youngest, with the closest in age being 28, her friends were incredibly warm and welcoming.  It was a night I won't soon forget.  
With visits from my nearest and dearest coming from the States, Europe, and even from Africa over the next 5 weeks, I know that time will fly.  But I know also that no matter how quickly or slowly time goes, I will still board that plane in 32 days feeling like a piece of me is staying behind.  And do you know what the very best part about that is, mes chers amis? That only means that I will have to come back to retrieve it, some day. xo


  1. I brought some family photos to St. Theresa's yesterday to show you guys off to the boys... and one of them was me and you (Delphic Sibyl) when you came to visit me during my study abroad in Paris. I can't believe that it's going to be you and Meg this time around! Have so much fun, and make sure you visit the Frog & Rosbif for delicious chips & curry sauce and microbrews.
    Counting down the days...

  2. I'm just getting to this entry now Niamh! It's lovely and makes miss Paris already even though I just got off the plane yesterday. Thanks for sharing your piece of Paris with me, I so enjoyed it! Needless to say I am on a diet that started yesterday. I have to prepare myself for the epicurean and emotional Christmas ahead!
    love you lots,