I Go Out Walking, After Midnight . . .

Yes, I’m in a bed in an apartment in Paris quoting Patsy Cline. Damn skippy.

So, long story short: went to bed early, couldn’t stay asleep. The dark waters of the Seine were beckoning. Notre Dame was whispering in the cool breeze. There was a pull, an instinctual need to commune with the Marais at night.

Paris was for Ernest Hemingway “A Moveable Feast.” Gertrude Stein once said that America was her country, but Paris was her hometown. The grand, literary, roaring 20s can still be heard in the strains of a trombone playing outside the Louvre at 2am, or glimpsed as lovers dart into the shadows on Île de la Cité. There is so much life in Paris, she’s more interesting than most of the rest of the world, even when she sleeps.

The cobblestone streets and amber glow of street lamps invite you to squint and imagine yourself in the Paris of La Belle Époque or La Révolution. We are surrounded by history. We are witnesses to the beauty of a culture that values its past. We are Parisians, if only for a week.

It’s easy to see why this magnificent city inspires so many. Is it just my imagination, or does everything taste better in Paris? How is it that only in Paris does everything really have a rosy glow? The jazz wafting through the alleys sounds more intense; the smells of a boulanger’s work more tempting. Paris is a moveable feast: a joyful cache of memories that tantalize the senses.

Lest you believe, though, that I’m partial, somehow incapable of a true appraisal of Paris, the author of nothing more than a panegyric to the ideal of a city . . . Paris can still break your heart. You can be disappointed in her. You can be angry with her caprice. You can be inconsolably heartbroken to find her fallible in ways you thought impossible. But the wonderful thing about Paris isn’t that it’s perfect: it’s that when you’ve had all you can take, she finds a way to take care of you.


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