Every time I return to Paris I have this feeling deep in my gut and in my throat that I never should have left the city. My chest aches as I breathe, hinting, whispering to me that I don’t have enough time in Paris. Whether I am staying for one week or five months, it is always the same: I just don’t have enough time.
It’s not for the Eiffel tower or the chocolate éclairs (well, not exactly). It’s not for the fashion stores and cobbled lane-ways. It’s for the melange of people to meet in Paris that I don’t have enough time.
It’s for the man who points to the sky to share with me that the sun has come out. It’s for the graceful older woman at the table across from me who tells me everything she has ever learned about men. It’s the joy of buying cheese when you can select from over 300 kinds and sharing wine on the banks of the Seine with old friends and new friends. It’s for exploring the arrondissements (districts), each nuanced capsule of Parisian culture, and seeing what it brings out in you.
The bustling market on Rue d’Aligre in the 12th arrondissement helps me to relax, to stay in the moment. I pass men selling fresh seafood and displays of beautiful, fragrant flowers. A woman stops to tell me that the flowers are always beautiful. She points to the ones she likes and looks to me. We share a moment. This brings me to life. Centres me. I don’t want to leave.
The streets of the 5th and the 6th arrondissements inspire me to write and to think. I pass Rue Bonaparte where Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir lived. I pass people sitting in cafés reading, talking. I stroll through the Luxembourg gardens and sit. I listen to the sound of the water splashing as the ducks take a bath. I listen to children playing and the sound of gravel moving under their tennis shoes. I don’t want to leave.
I drink a glass of wine at The Crémerie in the 6th arrondissement and I wonder how I never noticed this wine bar despite walking past it every day for five months. I think how much I want to go to Le Baron Rouge—a rustic bar near the markets in the 12th—for a glass of wine, cheese plate, friendly service, and most of all, to hear the bell ring at the end of the night.
I stroll back to my apartment, passing bands playing music for the Fête de La Musique. The music is so good. People dance. A child stands with her ukulele. I just don’t have enough time.