(This post was originally published on my personal blog, Of Postcards & Ink, between 2015-2016.)
After my first three days in Paris, I have to say that I don’t think Paris exists as a fact.
Of course, the physical existence of the city itself is undeniable, but the poetic and aesthetic beauty of the place exists only in the collective imaginations of those who visit it, those who have read about it, and those who have fallen in love with the myth of Paris.
Paris can mean anything to anyone, but the Paris that everyone dreams of is something shared in the collective imaginations of literate dreamers. To wander down boulevards and petites rues, to eat crêpes and drink chocolat chaud by the Seine, to watch the world go by while walking through Jardin du Luxembourg; they’re experiences necessitated by our literary predecessors.
This is Paris. The city is beautiful and she demands that we notice it.
Even though my arrival in Paris involved carrying various combinations of a 31kg suitcase, a 10kg suitcase and a handbag single-handedly on a bus, across the intersection that housed the magnificent Paris Opéra (where it was demonstrated to me that the marked pedestrian crossings only serve as a suggestion and that cars apparently don’t actually need lines to determine where their lanes begin and end) and on the underground metro, I couldn’t help but marvel at the history encased in the streets, buildings and people themselves. Only in Paris could I have walked up and out of Chatelet metro station to be greeted in the tunnel by a string quartet playing grand melodies that reverberated from the stone walls. Only in Paris could there be a man who hops on and off trains while playing an accordion, simply for the sake of livening up the humdrum of daily commutes. There is a quiet confidence and beauty in the way the city watches each day pass and I feel as though I’ve barely skimmed the surface of it.
In our comings and goings, the city expects us to fall in love; and we do.
Thank you so much for your love, prayers and support over the last few days.
Thank God for bringing me to Paris safely and for keeping me safe as I navigated the city’s metro, bus and taxi system (especially while initially carrying a 31kg suitcase, a 10kg suitcase and a handbag from the airport!) and as I’ve been moving about from my accommodation to different parts of Paris to sight-see and run errands each day. Thank God that I’ve been able to tick some “life admin” tasks off my list in preparation for my return in mid-August for uni – today’s big achievement was opening a French bank account and negotiating the entire process in French (I may have completed Professional French A & B at UNSW, but I can tell you that they equip their students very poorly to communicate the nuances of interest rates, bank policies and personal finances, haha).
The first couple of days were particularly hard, as I found myself riding an emotional roller coaster of moments that oscillated between highs of excitement/contentment and deep lows of sadness/homesickness for familiar faces and places. Thank God that I’ve since been feeling more settled and please pray that He might continue to comfort me, sustain me and strengthen me, particularly as I prepare to leave Paris and travel to Strasbourg tomorrow.
Thank God for technology. This sounds so silly, but I can’t even explain the tear-inducing mixture of heartache and joy I felt when I heard my parents, siblings and boyfriend’s voices over the phone/Skype after arriving here with a heart full of anxiety and apprehension.
Prior to arriving in Paris, I had been working my way through Jeremiah, but while having one of my self-reflective “why do I have so many emotions?!” moments on the metro, I decided that I would spend the next couple of months reading the Psalms. Thank God for the timeliness of His truths and the comfort of His word and His presence. I’ll be sharing bits and pieces of what I’ve been reading and reflecting on here in the days ahead, but for now, please pray that I might be disciplined in setting aside time to sit humbly before God and to read His word and pray, despite the fluidity of my daily schedule and the constant moving about.
Please let me know how I can be praying for you as well! I would love to hear what God has been teaching you recently and to know how I can be praying and caring for you, even though we might be on opposite sides of the world. Feel free to leave me a comment here or to get in touch via email/Facebook/Whatsapp!