I received news that Paris was a journey foreseeable in my bleak crystal ball a single and solid (and practically exact) year before takeoff. The wanderlust adventurer in me sky-rocketed at the thought of seeing a flag unlike America’s, the scholar in me bought too many French-English dictionaries and travel guides, and the artist in me stood still, ram-rod straight, one ear glued to the phone my uncle was speaking out of (“Emily, are you there? We’re going to Paris!”) and my other ear already hearing the quietness of the Parisian streets, the brew of rich coffee, the buzz of the world’s second largest Metro station, and the intangible happiness in my heart.
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I received news that Paris was a journey that would change my life forever.
It certainly hasn’t disappointed me yet.
There were five of us – My Grandma and Uncle (who paid for me to go), my anxiety-ridden mother, my Indiana-native cousin, and me – in an apartment that could literally see the top of the Eiffel Tower, a genius and innovative piece of art that lights up at 11:00 P.M (or 23:00 in European talk) every night. From our apartment windows that we kept open every night for the cool air that contrasted against the heavy humidity back in Florida, we could hear the yells and gasps and cries of appreciation, from the People of Paris, as that iconic piece of architecture ignited from more than 20,000 individual lightbulbs.
Because that was my favorite part about Paris. It wasn’t the places, the architecture, the art, nor the cafes that made me fall in the love with Paris, France. When I was at the D’Orsay, looking frantically for one of my favorite Caillebotte paintings, The Floor Scrapers, I found myself admiring the people more than the art. For me, the people were the art. When I was at Le Bosque, by far the fairest and cheapest cafe around Rue Cler, a must hit tourist street, I stole glances at the mouths of the people eating the fine food instead of the eclectic food itself; waltzing through the Tuilerie gardens on my way to the infamous Louvre, I gazed at the lazy loungers and not the clean-cut flowers or fountains in the same way that I loved the lethargic expressions on the worshippers in St. Sulpice more than the sound of one of the most magnificent organs in the world: “Do you hear that, Emily? The sounds of angels are upon us”.
I agree, Grandma. I agree.
It was this reason, my love for the people in Paris, that my photography – an emotional and explorative hobby of mine – flourished. I never let go of my camera while in Paris, shooting a grin on a little French mademoiselle here and capturing a smoke break of a tired garçon there. I took a total of more than 1,000 photographs but I acquired memories that far surpass that quantitative value.
The quality of my visit, of my photographs, cannot be understated. Paris showed me how to love all the imperfections around me, to find all the hidden perfections. Paris prompted me the opportunity to live, even if it was just through a few 1,000 photographs that I cherish every time I look at them, remembering my time loving the people of Paris, loving the people I shared Paris with, and loving Paris – a city that loved me right back.
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