Paris is the manic pixie dream girl of cities. It’s beautiful and messy and lovely and–dare I say it–effervescent: pedestrians and cars clog narrow streets, while patrons at outdoor cafés drink beer and espresso, judging the passersby. Tall buildings impose their shadows on the sidewalks below, and along the Seine people sit on the edge with their legs dangling over the water, sharing cheese and bread and wine and olives. At Sacré Cœur I climbed up several flights of stairs, turned around, and found the city laid out in front of me like a sweeping sea of white and tan and gray; on our last night, we went to see the Eiffel Tower at sunset. After the initial obligatory mania of trying to take pictures during golden hour, we chose a spot on some grassy fields in front of the monument. I spent the next few hours lying on my jacket, listening to Taylor Swift’s new album and watching the Tower twinkle as the sky dimmed to black.
On a certain level you see the dirt and the grime, smell urine on street corners and grimace when you have to walk through enormous plumes of cigarette smoke, but on another level you feel the romance, the vastness of its extensive history and the crazy notion that while Leonardo da Vinci was painting the Mona Lisa, God knew that you would one day be among the masses of people clamoring to see it. It’s enormously humbling to be privy to such a world that you can barely comprehend, and with only forty-eight hours in the city, I didn’t really get to appreciate everything that I wanted to at the depth I wanted to appreciate it. But even skimming the surface is a wonderful privilege and, in some sense, helps you better understand the greater context of life. It was my first time traveling to a new city without the help of my parents, and I’ve never felt smaller, or younger, or dumber, or more transient–like in the arms of this ever-shifting world everything could change in a moment, my life irrevocably altered, and I myself would not be the same, or perhaps not even still exist.
We are all so, so temporary.
But I loved Paris. And I’m glad I had the chance to visit it, and capture it, and to document this part of my life, because words and videos outlive the moments actually lived, and I’ll get to look back on this for the rest of my life.