Many years ago I began my adult life here. Straight out of college, cluelessly optimistic, I landed a job with the South Korean delegation to UNESCO. (That’s a story for another time.)
Certainly nostalgia tinges all memories a certain shade of rose, but I remember my two years there as an exhilarating and free time of my life, hangovers notwithstanding. My fondness for the first place I lived as a post-college adult hasn’t lessened. It’s a city I’ve revisited over the years, albeit never often enough.
So a trip back was long overdue, especially since N and I had only spent a day there together the last time. I was excited, because for all the years, I wanted to see if I remembered metro stops, how to get to my friends’ flat, the name of my favorite pastry, and my rusty French.
For the most part my memory surprised me. The French came back, I found my friends’ flat with only a few wrong turns, and navigating the metro felt familiar. A lot felt familiar, which I didn’t expect, but I suppose it’s a form of muscle memory.
It was a lovely three days of catching up with friends, eating more bread and cheese than I should admit, and showing N my Paris. A pedestrian’s Paris. We walked for hours each day, past landmarks, through parks, shopping districts and the odd museum. Our soft mountain feet felt the effects of the concrete and cobblestones at the end of each day, but it’s my favorite way to see this city.
My Paris is unlikely to be everyone’s Paris, but in includes important-to-me places like the Marche de Mouffetard, the Grande Epicerie at the Bon Marche, the Ile St. Louis and the Parc Buttes-Chaumont. It includes crepes from an outdoor stand, lots of café time, and more than a few baguette sandwiches.
This time around it also included N. And that made it much more memorable.