Do you hear it calling your name?
A whoosh along the Eurostar from London, a step out from La Gare du Nord and immediately, I’m overcome with a familiar sense of belonging.
Cue a whirlwind of internal acoustics in my head, something along the lines of the jazzy and vibrant, albeit melancholy soundtrack to Midnight in Paris. You could take me straight into the glamour and romance of the 1920s. Where Hemingway drank to his heart’s content, to forget and likely for inspiration. The Fitzgerald’s laughed and danced. Great painters and minds of the time, collectively partied, mused and created.
Americans have seemingly always found a home away from home in Paris.
Even now in the twenty-first century, Paris has a way of making me feel like I too, could still join one of the 1920s elite parties. Although, let’s be honest. I’d likely be a wallflower in that crowd. And by wallflower, I mean probably another wall. Probably in a totally different place, like a café across town. But it’s besides the point, because when I visit Paris, I can’t help but feel a little bit like I’m home.
It’s a weird thing to say isn’t it? There are just some places and cities over the course of our lives that resonate so deeply with us that it feels like we were meant to be there. I have a similar, but slightly different feeling when I go back to New York City. And whenever I touch back down in London, I know it’s where I live, but it’s somewhere I instantly feel at home.
Each city has a feeling that varies, and like my friend Grace pointed out in her latest blog post, Paris has a sense of longing and wistfulness associated with it. It’s a sad, poetic, beautiful city. It differs from the wonder and vivaciousness of New York. In fact, I haven’t found anywhere quite like it yet that has fit my exact mood while being there.
But she’s right, because Paris does hold that longing feeling. It lifts you up, but can also break you down. While I’ve had countless wondrous moments in the city, champagne at Les Deux Magots, wandering the streets of Montmartre, drinking coffee at the Trocadero…
I’ve also had a few harrowing ones. One of my favourite light-hearted tales is when I hit my head on the Eiffel Tower. Yes, it actually happened.
In spite of the bumps and bruises along the way, it will always be forgiven. Each visit feels like a homecoming. It’s just one of those places that you have to keep coming back to.
And I’m glad that I do. Because as F. Scott Fitzgerald himself says, “The American in Paris is the best American.”