Strangely enough, my old blogging pal Julie of Writing Roads is how I got connected to Shannon of Je Ne Sais Quoi. They were talking on Twitter and I clicked over and discovered her.I love her quirky sense of humor and metro stories and I love her Friday Features when she gets a whole bunch of francophile bloggers to respond to topic. It is a virtual party and a lot of fun.
When we met at the Paris Bloggers Meet-up last October we found out that we had another thing in common…she worked at the restaurant that Mr. Misadventures and I frequented several times while we were dating! While not at the same time, we did reminisce about their rocking margaritas and hush puppies!
Shannon is a busy gal but I managed to wrangle her into telling me about her passion of for Paris, so here is her story.
Why do I love Paris? You might as well ask me to fly to the moon… I wouldn’t know where to begin. I do know, that I’ve loved it since I was little. Although, it wasn’t love at first sight when I arrived for good.
I have photos of me as a kid, missing teeth, pigtails and all, wearing t-shirts with “France” and “Paris” and “Oh la la!!” plastered all over them. Despite my adolescent predisposition to love all things French, I had to warm up to it when I moved here. It was surprising. I thought I would blend in with the French, that my language skills would make me fit the mold that seemed destined to be mine since I learned to sing “Frère Jaques”… how naive I was. I’m about as American as they come, and a move wasn’t going to change that.
But my heart was stolen by a Frenchman during walks along the river, and lazy days in the parks. Paris was perfection. I was in love with him and with the breath taking beauty around me. Except for the cheese. Blegh. So when things got serious between us, I decided to make the big move. Stinky cheese and all the risk that came with it. I left behind my family, friends, job, apartment, car, dog and the kitchen sink too, and threw all my eggs in one basket.
It was hard. Really hard. I wasn’t a fish out of water, I was a fish, wearing a space suit pretending it was on another planet. I didn’t get the culture, I didn’t get the clothes, even my french skills were sub-par compared to my expectations. Everything about me screamed “Outsider!!”, and the adjustment period was rude. So, loving Paris didn’t just happen for me from day one.
I think it’s a mistake people make too often. They come here expecting that it’s going to be a fairytale, La Vie En Rose. It is Paris, after all, how could it not be? But it’s also full of people. Grumpy people; Parisians don’t have that rep for nothing. And being full of people, means it’s not perfect.
And though it wasn’t easy, I don’t regret it. Not one iota.
Being in this place, around these people, and with this man have shaped my adulthood. Over the last five or so years, I’ve learned how to grow up here. I learned how to leave my assumptions and predispositions behind and love Paris, for Paris. I’ve also learned to be myself here, which is no small feat in any place.
Perhaps that is why I am so attached to this city. I haven’t got a place to live. Paris taught me how to live.
Enjoy your friends, they are your other puzzle pieces. You need them to complete the picture.
Love completely, fearlessly and without regret. What’s the point in doing it half-assed?
Discover the world, it’s wide and waiting. There is so damn much to see.
Don’t grow up too fast, there is a time to be young and this is it. You can be old later.
Humility is the key to learning, always be open to getting a lesson.
Those are just a few things I’ve picked up along the way from living here.
What about the *things* you say? Yes, yes, the things. Things that are familiar. Things that make this home. I could give you a list as long as your arm, but you’ve probably heard it all before. The baguettes, the markets. I love jogging in the Bois de Boulogne, and going for walks in the neighborhood with my frenchie husband. The architecture, the Seine, the women with scarves and little dogs relieving themselves on the sidewalk. The Tower. I do love the Tower and it’s welcoming presence, like a light house leading me to shore after a weary voyage.
I am most passionate about the cafes. Meeting for drinks or a meal are so wonderfully Parisian that I feel a pang of guilt if I go to a restaurant in the summer that doesn’t have a terrace with those adorable wicker chairs. (You must take full advantage, no? Why would you eat inside when it is so beautiful outdoors?)
When I think about it, the things I love are rather “banal” (ordinary). I suppose my passion isn’t about the things that make Paris beautiful. It’s about the memories and people that have made me who I am, the ones that make it unforgettable.
About the author
Shannon has lived and worked in Paris since 2005, somehow she finds time in her crazy Parisian schedule to write her own sassy blog, Je Ne Sais Quoi. Follow her on Twitter and “like” her Facebook for more sassiness!