I’m closing my eyes, taking in the heady scent. Inhaling, exhaling, my heart beating at a steady pace… Wait, no — actually — probably a little faster than usual. I’m a little clammy, a little sticky, a little claustrophobic but all in the right ways. The music, played entirely too loud for this time of night (or morning?), created almost-tangible rhythmic waves in the air that sent vibrations to my toes. I open my eyes, from the half-second break I took to close them, and look around. Even after a few glasses of wine, probably one (or two?) of champagne and swigs of someone’s cheap canned beer in between, I can make out a particular feeling: love.
Let me say that I don’t intend for this post to be some kind of Eat-Pray-Love ramble where I tell you about how much I have found my inner peace by sitting on the Seine alone on a sunny day listening to The Radio Dept. (although that might’ve happened), or how I learned to disregard calories and mental body-shaming by eating crepes at midnight (this might’ve happened too), or felt what it was truly like to experience a whirlwind, intoxicating, lust-filled romance with a mysterious foreigner. That last bit definitely did not happen.
This is about me finding out about/realizing/coming to the conclusion/reaching that grand epiphany, about how much I can love. My absolute desire and capacity to love. This past year, while in this (sometimes) infuriating, riveting, completely mesmerizing city, I have fallen in love with people, places, smells, sounds, tastes, on a daily basis. I catch glimpses of someone on the Metro, completely engrossed in some tattered, yellow-paged novel, and feel a sense of it. An elderly couple, walking hand-in-hand, past hordes of bustling tourists along the street. A small Yorkshire terrier trotting along his owner, carrying the latest edition of Le Monde and a baguette. The sound of sizzling onions that permeates through the open windows in my apartment complex on a warm night. Walking past a group of people, stationed on a crowded corner, playing smooth jazz on a Sunday morning.
Before I moved here, I was so completely and utterly engrossed in the “daily grind” (does that need a hash tag?) of work, class, laundry, grocery lists, stepping on gum, “Do I need more gas?”, spam emails, and “Why is there no parking?!” Every. Single. Day. I am obviously aware of the fact that my time abroad was meant to be vacation from all this — I haven’t had to work in close to nine months and barely have school. But I think beyond that, what has struck me about my time here, is how much I was a shell of a person before I came. How much I took days and nights for granted, never seizing the opportunity to really…love, because of some vicious, monotonous cycle that took hold of me when I’m honestly too young to be anchored down by such expectations of responsibility.
Paris has taught me how to love by making me in fall in love. This all could be some empty promise to myself, tinged with naïveté, to be laughed at in a few years or even months time when I return back to the dry Californian air — but I’m going to say this now: I am going to love and be in love. Every. Single. Day.
There are too many beautiful moments that can be created, shared, and experienced to live in some strange state of paralyzing boredom, tethered down by fear of failure and anxiety of the future.
In the background, people are dancing at different rhythms—some frenetically, some languidly slow-dancing, some just standing there swaying their hips to the subtle beat while taking drags from their cigarettes.
This is what it means to be young and this is what it means to be in love.
I glance over to my left, and at this point can definitely feel the night’s drinks start to settle in, as I respond a little too slowly to a soft nudge I feel on my shoulder. “Ça va?” This boy, with his crooked smirk and humor-filled eyes, asks.
I feel myself smile in response.