Can I be honest with you about Paris for a second?
It’s totally disgusting.
That’s what I was thinking the first few days of our journey. We walked down from our 2nd-floor apartment at Rue de Chevert, past a few outdoor cafes, and across the street toward the pâtisserie, and I couldn’t help but notice:
- Our building smelled funny.
- Those cafes spewed cigarette smoke blown by its patrons.
- Homeless people wandered between me and my chocolate croissant.
This is what people made movies and songs and posters about?
This is the home of artists where dreams come true?
This is Paris?
As my eyes scanned some crude graffiti, I couldn’t help but think of the line in Woody Allen’s movie, Midnight in Paris:
“That Paris exists and anyone would choose to live anywhere else in the world will always be a mystery to me.”
Quickly, I revised it:
“That anyone would choose to live in Paris is a mystery to me.”
I missed my bed. I missed my dog. More than anything, I missed Nowhere, Tennessee — my comfortable home where nothing ever went wrong.
The Eiffel Tower cannot be done justice by any adjective in my vocabulary. Embarrassingly, I keep returning to “really, really big.” Kate and I stared at it for hours.
Sacre Coeur, which sits smack dab in the middle of Montmartre (my favorite part of Paris), is nothing less than spiritual. I hope to think of it on my deathbed.
Giverny is paradise. Each crevice leaks the best nature has to offer. It makes you feel like Claude Monet’s water lilies were kind of inevitable. A day there could never be enough.
La Fontaine de Mars holds the best meal I have ever eaten. Sitting across the table from my bride — with no laundry, no appointments, no pets — was worth the cost of our international journey.
Over the next few days, we became Parisians. Albeit very quiet ones.
On our last night, I hated to go.
Here’s what happened when we decided to step into the pictures of Paris and risk shattering the illusion:
In real life, yeah — you get to see your spouse naked all the time. But you also get to watch an adult throw a tantrum when they can’t find the right pair of socks.
In real life, yeah — you get strangers to adore and support your art. But you also get to work for nobody 95% of the time.
In real life, yeah — you get more money. But you also get more expenses, more taxes, and more expectations.
And in real life, yeah — you get to see the Eiffel Tower. But there will still be hucksters selling beer and wine for massive markups on the street.
These are Truths.
Now for the crushing part:
You can easily skirt by all discomfort in life.
Many people do.
Don’t want to put up with the headache of international travel? Hang a picture of the Eiffel Tower. It will look better than the ones I took.
Don’t want to ever fight with a significant other? Watch romantic movies alone at night. It will be much calmer than a real relationship.
You can duck hospital visits, excuse yourself from funerals, quit hard jobs, and depart from friends when “drama” happens. You can slip away from arguments, leave disagreements unresolved, refuse to push yourself, and ignore the voices inside which ask for more.
You can let love crush you.
You can allow bad art to happen.
You can watch as Paris moves from shiny storybooks to rugged reality.
You can take the journey.
I hope you choose the journey.
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