Paris, I almost can’t bring myself to participate.
It’s a different exploration than China: I feel even less sure. In China the “fuck it” moments mean more: they’re shrouded completely in the unknown, in the breaking down of stereotypes, in the safety of being a laowai. I learn more. I’m open to more. I’m ready to explore more on my own, willingly, completely.
But Paris—Paris, all I know is what I’ve heard from others and seen on some screen. I don’t know what you’ll hold at nighttime. I’ve become complacent about safety, which is never a good thing. I wonder if you live up to all that’s been said about you or whether you will feel just like another city. I’m hoping not. I’m unsure. I’m wondering if maybe this was a mistake. Maybe I was never meant to belong here, and that’s my own doing: I’ve always brushed aside French, always lived on the stereotypes of France (particularly Paris) without ever truly doing the digging. Do I trust myself—and more importantly, do I trust you—to allow me the chance to dig further?
China became comfortable. Could you ever be that for me? I never thought I’d go to France. I never thought I’d live in China. Yet here I sit, in the Gare du Nord neighborhood, wondering about which step of mine will lead me in the right direction, if there is one. I need my sense of exploration to keep me company.
Get moving, girl: time to participate for Paris.
It’s only fitting that I write as I sit at the Louvre. I don’t even think I’m halfway through it. I don’t know if there is a way to be halfway through it. It’s gargantuan and gorgeous. While it’s great to see real classics in the flesh (Venus de Milo and Mona Lisa/La Jocande–and man, is my girl Mona well-protected), I’ve so enjoyed seeing the paintings and sculptors of artists I don’t know and will never remember. It’s funny, people are dying to preserve themselves, to be showcased maybe, only to be remembered by their work, not their name. Or maybe I’m on a stupid tangent but hey! I love art! I love lesser known/unknown art!
So I’ll just continue sitting and resting in front of a painting of an old theatre house, admiring the intricacy of the details (all of the people!) and imagining I’m actually there.