I’m in Paris.
The city of a monumentally pierced skyline has taken me beneath its broken zinc membrane. Every morning, I wake up as though on a little boat floating on a sea of slopes and bobbing chimneys. Going down unto the street feels very much like a descent into depths, into an other world. These two worlds lie close to one another, like oil over water. The static and silent Paris of roofs and the vibrant and at times aggressive Paris of the streets.
It does not take much to fall in love. In the popular sense, lovers come here to celebrate their love, but I don’t think Paris is the ideal backdrop. I think Paris is the place to discover love.
Love is a word I hate to use. It’s too ambiguous and too liable to personal interpretation. But I think Paris and Love are both supplementary and complimentary to one another, almost interchangeable. They can mean and bring so many different things. Practically indefinable.
Here, I breathe freedom; personal, inner freedom. In spite of having been here many times before, I am free of the previous. It feels a little like the fantasy of being reborn into the world, free of the patterns of the life you lived, but with the memory and awareness that can only be acquired over time. Clean of the nuisances of people, it is a time for me to be alone and to learn why I once was my best friend. That close relationship I had harvested between me, myself and I as a single child has been lost in the multitudes of largely useless social transactions. I say transactions because according to personal observations, the majority of people are ready to settle for less, a residual conversation, a half-conscious thrashing in bed, in order to avoid an awkward silence, a sit-in with no one but themselves. Somehow, we fail to see that this particular silence is rich. It is easy to think that every moment of nothing should be spent fiddling with your Blackberry, your iPad, your mp3 player. We have forgotten that our ancestors used to go to great lengths, climb great mountains, build sacred spaces, to embrace introspection.
Here, I can roam alone without feeling conspicuous, sit in a café and watch people, or write, or read, without feeling like I’m something special – in Beirut, I’ve almost always caught myself with a perverse vanity on my shoulder.
I can explore me. The streets guide me, and all I have to do is walk.
I love, the anonymity. I love, the play of un/familiarity. I love, the technicality of not being a tourist.