*It should be noted, I have never been interested in visiting Paris. It seemed like a female Rome, or an expensive Lisbon. Like London, but without the work ethic. After one day here, I’ll wholeheartedly admit: I was wrong.
There cannot be another city like this, where magic is so easily accessible. It’s around you so much. It’s carnal. It’s smothering. And, still, it’s largely irrelevant. Do they really just drink their coffee and drives their taxis around the Eiffel Tower, or Notre Dame, or Ernest Hemingway’s apartment like it’s all nothing?
Even folks like me — who are normally buoyed by their confidence in mangling and contorting words and sentences for their own benefit – are left with a scribble and a few unconnected nouns.
Water. River. Bread. Chocolate. What?
While I try and explain that warm light I feel more and more in the left part of my chest cavity, my bottom lip sags due to a heavy puddle of my own saliva.
You smile. You sing a little, maybe. You probably talk to yourself.
New York brags about its lights. Rome goes on and on about its food. London seems to take pride in it Thames and its smog and its Medieval, Industrial, and Modern history.
And, there Paris is at the end of all of it, smiling in the corner like the bastardly wizard it is.
I feel humbled by the place, but only because I fear it so much and in a completely professional and profitable way. People like me, we call ourselves bastards because it makes us feel okay with how we act at night. But, when we can call a whole city a bastard, then we’re lost.
We pass on through without protest. It’s like we’ve picked one too many fights and we’ve just now — finally — met the one man too big and too strong. And so, we sit there in the opposite corner from this smiling wizard, and just give it a wink and a wave and say, “Go ahead. This is all yours.”
Paris returns the favour, knowing he — or she — has won again. She has a four dollar Coke and smile and stares us down until we either leave or admit that she’s greater.
Places like this, they demand royalty. They live on tribute. They’ll give you want you want and they won’t ask a lot in return. But, when they do come to collect, you’d best hold your palms up in the air, pretend they’re Don Corleone asking for a favour, and oblige.
Give yourself up to it. You’ll only enjoy it more and, really, you have no choice.