Monday, January 25, 2016

Remembering Paris

Image by Pedro Gadhra via Unsplash

Paris will always be the love of my life. And no, I really don't care if that sounds cheesy. Men may come and go, relationships may begin and end, but as Humphrey Bogart famously put it in Casablanca, "We'll always have Paris."

My love affair with Paris began almost 16 years ago, when I visited it for the first time as part of a high school trip. At the time, I was a true ingénue, wide-eyed and innocent, ready to explore the world in all its glory. Paris was the first city I ever visited without my parents, and I still remember how much fun my friends and I had, exploring the city, learning about its history and making as many memories as humanly possible. Little did I know then, that Paris would one day become the city that would change me and my life in the most profound ways.

Fast forward 7 years, my BA in international relations fresh in my pocket, I was standing with my huge suitcase in my teeny tiny Parisian dorm room, bidding goodbye to my parents and to my life as I knew it - comfortable and quite predictable. I was feeling so excited and confident in my future!

I spent almost four years of my life in Paris. I earned my Master's there while working as an au-pair (almost losing my mind in the process). I had to learn to fend for myself, to rely solely on my own strength and capabilities, because there was no one else to help me (at least not in the beginning). In all those months, I learned more about myself that I'd ever thought possible.

Image by J. Ahrndt via Unsplash

In Paris I laughed, cried, danced and got drunk, missed the last métro and walked home, wandered the streets after the sunset, loved, felt free, happy and confident. I've tasted my first macaron at Ladurée, and I ate more crispy baguettes than I could count. I learned to appreciate good wine and savor French cuisine. I developed an unexpected love for shrimp, and I never quite got over my first encounters with the goat cheese (random facts, I know). I made a friendship there, that I'll cherish forever. I learned to be strong and independent when there was simply no other option. I observed people and took notes and lessons on that infamous Parisian chic and joie de vivre. And I mastered what I'll always consider to be the most beautiful language in the world - French.

In short, I became a grown up in Paris. And it will forever be my happy place - even though I left it behind 4 years ago and moved on to my new life. I still make it a priority to schedule regular visits to this city I once called home. Maybe the time has come to start looking at the plane tickets again!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this one. Do you have a city or a place that completely stole your heart? Why is that? What makes it so special to you?

This post is part of a #ileftmyheartin blogger campaign. All opinions are my own. 

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