I still don’t smoke. I don’t speak perfect French. I’m not super rude. I smile. I eat breakfast. I love America.
With all these personality traits, one could wonder how I, the American who likes to grow beards and be outside and explore could possibly consider himself Parisian. The answer is rather simple. One doesn’t have to be like everyone else in his city to consider himself part of the city, he merely has to make it his home.
Its an interesting experiment to take long-term Parisians and ask things like: “When’s the last time you went to the Louvre? The Eiffel Tower? Ate a crepe?” The answer you often get is that it has been a while. It doesn’t lessen there Parisien-ness, nor does my eagerness to see every single building and painting in the city increase mine. Its merely an intriguing comparison that alludes to the normalcy that occurs when we spend too long somewhere, no matter how wonderful the place.
Rather than being Parisian because I’ve assimilated to the people, I’ve assimilated incorporated myself into the city. I have my go to coffee shops, boulangeries and restaurants. I know which museums are closed which days, and when each one is open late. I know where Metro lines cross each other, and I understand where everything is in relation to each other. The city as a whole is fluid and I understand how one thing leads to another now. In the past I’d pop out of the Metro and feel as if I’d entered a brand new world.
I’ve been running in the Tuilerie a lot, because I can run easily there, do speed work and people watch all at the same time. Smack dab in the middle of Paris, from one corner of the park you can see the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, the Orsay, Montparnasse, and the Eiffel Tower. Essentially, everything important to a tourist is in sight, even if walking between all of them can be quite the trek.
Running by this spot and seeing an assemblage of sights that could make a tourist cry made me realize how small Paris has begun to feel. Its not imposing, city life is no longer abstract. Everything is within sight or within reach, and Paris is home. And for that, I feel Parisian.