Once Upon a Time In Paris

Once upon a time, there was a little dreamer. Like so many others, she ended up moving to Paris to feel the freedom of being able to do so, and to roam the old, atmospheric streets. The move was inevitable, having sparkled in the horizon for a long time. She adapted to life there quickly, picking up baguettes from the bakery like any Parisian, the long, thin bread packaged in mere napkin-sized papers. And so she’d walk each day – among the scooters, cars, dogs – waving her breakfast in the fresh, Parisian air.

Back home far North, she had been a student and she’d managed to get an internship in Paris. When it was time to leave for work in the mornings in Paris, she would take two métro lines and then transfer to the bus, traveling to the outskirts of town. Each morning, she would get off the line 4 at Montparnasse, where she would then transfer to line 12. The trip took over an hour each way.

The Montparnasse metro station in the mornings, she discovered, was full of business people, all in a hurry. Whenever a metro left the station, the platform would soon flood in a new wave of people. The women all wore high heeled pumps and no one had winter clothes. The metro’s climate was subtropical and it was easy to forget the month was January. The men were clad in huge, colorful scarves with their smart shirts and they read books casually while standing. Some of the more bohemian types had dressed in over-sized woolen sweaters with visible holes, soon the fashion rage elsewhere in Europe. Day after day, the same street musicians would play their instruments in the underground corridors and the same beggars would pass from metro wagon to wagon telling their stories.

The more she traveled through Montparnasse, the more she started viewing the station as a video game being played at double speed. It started to seem surreal. The speed – she had to keep up. Like driving on a freeway, if someone was slower, the whole system would collapse. There were always people passing her by in a smooth, automated half-run, curving left and right to overcome obstacles. Everyone going the same direction, until a crossroads would appear in the tunnels and some would dart left, some keep going straight. If you stopped to tie a shoelace, you might get trampled. The girl never stopped, not even to buy a chocolate bar she craved or the tempting Glamour magazine in the news stands at the edges of breaks in the corridor.

She would buy those later. She soon developed a habit of walking back home from work, no matter how many hours it took. It was the best part of being in Paris, after all, the walks. Each arrondissement and each quartier had their own atmosphere. Sometimes, she felt like she’d entered a farmer’s market, some moments transported her to Asia, and in some streets everything suddenly became very shiny and posh.

After work, she would go to the internet cafés, soon picking out her favorite go-to one. Since blogging wasn’t yet common in her world, she would write long emails to her friends and family back home. Her friends would write her back, telling her that they’d laughed so hard that people were giving them strange looks when they read those emails. She now has no idea what she’d written about back then.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve already lived many lives.

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53 responses to “Once Upon a Time In Paris

  1. We have, haven’t we. As many lives as you want… What I did in Vienna, where my father worked from, is sent faxes to sister and then kept the replies and with time the damn fax paper completely whitened out, as if it was written in invisible ink.

    I bet they laughed, we tend to now as well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A lovely memoire. The bohemian fashion of wearing torn clothes or jumpers is still raging in Australia. The more torn or damaged the more expensive.
    If my mother was still alive, she would probably take out a needle and thread and offer to patch the torn shorts for the girl or boy.
    Also popular is the faded jeans look, usually below the knees or around the bum.
    A pity we never lived or stayed in Paris. During one Easter we slept in the middle of Paris inside our Kombi Van. Next morning there were lots of tourists getting out of their camper-vans pulling on trousers and shirts. We never saw the Eifel Tower but did go to the many art galleries.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You made me smile with those fashion comments 🙂 Here, it’s too cold for torn clothes – we’ll see what summer brings. As for Paris, you probably made a good choice opting for the art. Have you two ever thought of traveling to Europe, to visit Paris, Holland, Finland..?

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      • Too cold in Finland? My IPhone tells me in Oulu it is a balmy 6C.
        Would love to visit Europe again, especially Finland’s Alaharma. But…the airport security, the endless queues going through customs is becoming off-putting. We shall see.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Lucky you to have lived in Paris. I’ve visited many times, and often like to pretend I live there, but alas, I never have and now probably never will. (But I have lived in other lovely cities, so no sadness here!)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved reading this Snow! So beautifully written. I was transported to Paris for a moment. I can only imagine how beautiful it would be to live there. I have visited Paris many times but it’s not the same as experiencing a city when you really live there and stop going to the tourist spots. I love people watching in every city. Noticing the clothes and style of the locals and Paris would be the best! We have just arrived in the U.S and seeing some questionable style here 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Aleasha! 😉 Each place has its own atmosphere and if I really try, I can still remember what Paris was like, though this was a decade ago. Not that I ever stopped going to the tourist places: I had people visiting me from Finland non-stop and spent a lot of time showing all of them around – which was fun. But mixing with the locals really does give you a better sense of a location and the culture than just visiting by yourself. Good luck adapting to life in Seattle (and the wardrobes)!

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  5. What a lovely post. It’s a pity you cannot access those emails anymore. I still have boxes of letters from my friends from all over the world from the time before email. I haven’t looked at them for years though..

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was an old email address which I closed due to spam, but yes, it would be interesting getting my hands on those old emails 🙂 I used to write letters, too, before emails and letters of mine are probably sprinkled all over the world… I’ve moved so many times that I had to throw most of them out, saving just some of the longest ones from my best friends abroad. I guess “expatting” makes you into a writer… I kind of feel like I’ve always been a blogger. Seems like you and me have been doing similar things all these years, hahah. Thanks for the lovely comment, Suvi 🙂

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  6. I feel the same about my internship in London back in 2009 🙂
    I like how you wrote about you as if you were telling the story of someone else, it was a nice read! Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I felt like I was there with you, walking home from work. During my years in Gothenburg, the second biggest city in Sweden, I walked home form work as often as I could. Just to enjoy the different neighborhoods, and their specific atmosphere as I passed by.
    Great post!

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  8. I absolutely love Paris. Going back this year. When I got to the part about out ignoring cravings for candy bars I thought: “I would have stopped for chocolate.” And then she did! I’m all here for more Paris pics.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. this was a beautiful journal entry of a girl with such lofty dreams and wonder at the world around her….i love walking home no matter how long it takes too, but i prefer cooler weather and so just the opposite i am longing for cold and snow….but your photos and descriptions are really beautiful

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Blue Paris | The Snow Melts Somewhere·

  11. We have experienced your double-speed video game of the Paris Metro, the split decisions that aren’t really decisions but reflex, the need to move to the side to avoid the crush that is moving faster than you can. Thanks for your memories.

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  12. I lived there last year and your storytelling is perfect. I remember those crowded platforms and those same neighborhoods. Plus I started walking so much more than I used to just because of living in Paris, it was a real life change haha! I lived way down in the 13th but it was a pretty direct walk to Notre Dame. I walked home from the cathedral with a friend after my birthday soirée, the streets were so empty and peaceful…

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    • Happy to hear you had similar experiences – and fond memories! 🙂 I get a huge pinch of nostalgia for Paris every now and then. There’s just something special there. Thanks for taking the time to read my post and comment!

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