Friday, January 25, 2013

Paris Pride


Paris reminds me of a cat. Cats don't unconditionally love you the way a puppy would. You have to earn the love of a cat, and that is how I feel about Paris.
For instance, in every other country we have visited, locals readily spoke english with us. We were comfortable in the friendliness and openness of others, and it was assumed that anyone we encountered enjoy and willingly help the two American girls. This isn't necessarily true in Paris*. It's hard to describe, but you know how New York people are with their "I <3 NY" attitude? Like there is New York, and then there is this gigantic empty landmass that is the rest of the United States? Imagine that, but on crack. That's Paris. Here, people don't speak English. Not because the country isn't developed enough to teach English, but because it is too beneath them. You are in their territory, so you speak their language, or not at all. It doesn't matter that Paris is one of the biggest tourist cities in the world. Europe may be in an economic crises, but Paris doesn't seem to give any F-s about it. Clothes are still sleek, posh, and now cost both an arm AND a leg. And there are all these other weird rules that only Paris could get away with because its Paris. Like, why do cafes not have any food in the afternoon? Why do all these signs say "cafe" or "restaurant" but turn out to be bars that don't serve food? Can you tell that we had some dark and hungry times during our stay (cough Julie cough)?
Yet, people love Paris. I think when you carve out your space, and earn the respect of Paris, it pays you back in a fierce kind of loyalty, unrivaled in a never-ending supply of beauty and pastries. Until then, good luck even finding a bakery that will serve you food after 1pm.

All jokes aside though, Paris really is lovely. And the challenge that Paris presents is one that I  kind of enjoy. Yes, we look like two idiotic Americans. It's easy to see why parisians hate us. But there's something about the awkward obstacles that feel like we're at least experiencing Paris. At this point, Julie and I are keeping count of how many cultural travesties we will commit. We're already at a lot. But if you can't beat the parisans, or join them, then you might as well play into their stereotype and laugh at yourself about it. I mean, they already are.

*Disclaimer: We have actually had a lot of really friendly encounters with local restaurant owners who have been very gracious in helping two VERY cold and lost American girls find their way back to the hostel. One even drew out a map for us and made us realize we were on the completely wrong side of the river from where we wanted to be.

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