A lot of people I know wouldn’t want to live in Paris. A bizarre concept for those who don’t live in France; I know you’re thinking: Who wouldn’t want to live in Paris? Well, a lot of French people who aren’t Parisians, Julien included. There are valid reasons: the high cost of living, the seesawing weather, the pollution, the traffic, the overall Parisian attitude, the lack of parking space, the endless Metro shuttling.
It’s strange but despite all these reasons, I feel right at home here. I feel much more comfortable moving around here than I ever did in Aix-en-Provence, or in Lyon.
Sometimes, I step off the pavement and almost get run over by irate drivers, who in turn honk their horns and let out a wonderfully long string of curses. Other times I’m huddled in the Metro with a hundred other people during evening rush hour, damp from the rain, vainly willing my body to shrink to allow me some breathing space. From café windows, I watch drivers squeeze their cars into tiny parking slots, nudging car bumpers in front and from behind, without hesitation. In the mall, a woman rolls her kid’s stroller over a man’s foot and glares at him like it was all his fault. My heart still skips a beat when I get the monthly rent.
But then a lot of other things cancel out the bad. A few weeks ago, for example, I watched a free Sean Lennon concert at FNAC. Or when I’m tired of being cooped up at home working, I go downtown, buy a sandwich and sit eating by the Seine. There are museums to visit according to my mood. I can always find interesting shops here (the other day I went to a shop that sold nothing but toys and robots). People don’t look twice at you; you’re not foreign anymore; you’re just someone else, regardless of your looks, your nationality, your language.
All the negative points of la vie Parisienne are pretty lame compared to where I come from, from what I’m used to. I lived in Manila my whole life, yo… I’ve accepted phone-snatching as a normal occurrence when going out, I’ve taken jeepneys at dingy Cubao stations at 2 am (high), I’ve feasted (and caught typhoid fever) on dirty fishballs, I’ve sat in traffic for four straight hours, and still, I loved it, fucking loved every minute of it.
Living in Paris reminds me a lot of Manila, where one can get anywhere at any time, where there is always something new to do. It is, in the end, just another big city like the next one… Only, more beautiful. Only, with breathtaking architecture. Only with more character, more sass, more attitude, and more than enough things to keep me occupied.
Currently listening to:
Uzi & Ari
It is Freezing Out