Je voudrais Paris, s'il vous plaît

I miss Paris: the streets, the sights, the sounds, the tastes. I want to wake up to the sounds of traffic whizzing down Rue Saint Jacques, walk down the street for a baguette avec chevre et saumon fume.  I want to keep walking and get lost, stumble upon a café where I can sit for hours with a cappuccino and my notebook.   I want to cough out secondhand smoke and dangle my hands over a bridge crossing the Seine.  I want a thick slice of chocolate cake with raspberry frosting accompanied by a large cup of American coffee at Sugarplum Bakery, reminding me of everything I miss from home. I sat down at Pinkberry with a friend who’s about to live in Paris for six months; envy was spewing out of me onto a spoonful of pomegranate yogurt.

“Your life is about to change,” I said.

“Just for a few months, then I’ll be back,” he reminded me.

“No, I mean it.  You’re going to live in Paris, and you’ll never be the same again.”

I think I scared him.

Every day changes us, I guess, even if in the most trivial of ways.  We live and learn, make mistakes and grow with them. Try a new type of food and hate it, have meaningless conversation with a stranger that may come back to haunt us a few months later.

When I think of Paris I feel this emptiness, like part of me is missing, part of me is still there, and can never leave.  As if Paris is my soul mate, completing me when we’re together and devastating me into pieces when we’re apart.

But I know that’s not true.

I know most days in Paris were far from perfect: I missed late night Chinese food and a logical subway system.  In between the elation I was sad, homesick, frustrated, and depressed. Everything was expensive.  It was cold.

I don’t know if my bewilderment has to do with Paris itself, or the life I led there, if only for a summer.

And I wonder if I go back if it will ever be the same.