Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Way Past First Impressions

"I decided I could live here," PK told me after her first day in Paris. "Even if I can't speak the language. It's just so beautiful."

"But don't you think you'd just get used to it? You wouldn't even notice the beauty anymore if you saw it every day," I said.

She said that could certainly not happen. That the city is just too pretty. Her certainty made me sad.

When I moved to Paris in the fall, I went to the Louvre. At first not for the museum, but just to walk around outside and check out the pyramid and the building's architecture. It wasn't my first visit. Still I was way impressed with its hugeness and magnificence. I think I even said "woah…" out loud. Hoping for the same sort of emotion, I decided to run to the Louvre the other day. But I was grumpy because it was bad run, and there were at least 1 million tourists milling about. I wanted to be impressed again by the Louvre. I wasn't. I stayed for 15 unimpressed seconds, turned around and ran home.

On that note, every morning I ride my bike to work down Rue de Rivoli. Along the way, I pass by the following kind-of-a-big-deal monuments and museums: Place de la Bastille, Hôtel de Ville, La Tour Saint-Jacques, Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Le Louvre (again), Les Tuileries, and Place de la Concorde. If I stretch my neck, I can see Notre Dame and the Grand Palais. But I don't. I hardly ever look twice. Am I a bad person?

I guess I just feel guilty for not being as into Paris as the visitors that stop by are. I don't know if French people or Parisian people feel the same way. Do they not really notice this stuff either?

To finish up this really incohesive random chain of thoughts, I would like to mention that I am constantly wowed by riding through roundabouts on my bike. That is something about Paris that never fails to impress me.


Isabelle Roughol said...

I'd say maybe we don't notice it every day anymore, but you certainly notice when it's not there. I've now moved to a country where historical architecture has largely been destroyed to make way for gaudy monstruosities, where there are mounds of trash at every street corner, and where buildings are largely piled together for function, with no thought left for art or beauty. And believe me, when I walk on those streets, I miss France.
The beauty of those things is it makes the background of a life of generally higher quality than where they don't exist. Simply because sometimes you DO look up and say 'wow'.

betsyboo said...

Thanks for your insight Isabelle. I am sure I will have vivid pictures of these places in my head when I don't get to see them everyday anymore.