On my first day of 8th grade at East Jr. High School I walked into Mrs. Cross’s French 101 classroom without truly knowing what I was getting myself into. I had never seriously studied another foreign language, but 13 year old Kylie was enamored by the idea of being so worldly that she could speak dozens of languages, flitting between dialects with ease and perfect pronunciation. Fat chance teenage me, being fluent in a second language takes years of hard work and practice, and to be honest, it was far outside your attention span then… as it probably remains today.
I ended up studying French for eight years in middle school, high school and through half of college, and I have a remarkably laughable grasp on the language to show for it. But more than studying verb conjugations and past participles, my French studies were an entry into the history, art and culture of the countries that speak it. Before arriving I knew that France has an odd mix of cultural conservatism and political progressiveness, that folks visit their local baker at least once if not twice a day, and that egg dishes are totally welcome outside of breakfast (And for the record, I’m totally on board for omelets for dinner any day of the week. Why on earth would you ever limit yourself?). I had grown to romanticize what it meant to be French and all that life style entails without ever having been there.
But let’s be honest. When it comes to Paris in particular, the entire world seems to have these same picturesque notions. No other city in the world has been built up to be so enchanting, halcyon and romantic. I mean, every time I say the word ‘Paris’ I have to fight hard not to make it sound like sigh just aching for a ‘dah-ling’ to immediately follow.
The thing is, my first impression leads me to believe Paris more than lives up to it’s hype. I’m trying to look at it objectively but it’s hard looking past the Haussmannian apartments dripping with green planter boxes, the old gentleman walking his terrier with a baguette tucked under his arm, and the glowing lights of Notre Dame flickering off the waters of the Seine to see faults to this place. It’s as if there’s a spell over this city. Heck, even Walt loves it here. After discovering that our apartment is directly across the street from a green grocer, baker, pastry shop, butcher, cheesemonger and wine shop, each a different store, one after the other down the block, he turned to me and asked “So when do we move here?” I think he was joking, but I’m not quite sure.
We only just arrived and I’m already regretting only spending two weeks here. Never the less, we are determined to soak in as much as we can of this breathtaking city before we must move on to our next destination… where we will inevitably start planning our return to Paris. It may take years, but I already know I’ll coming back.