When I first laid eyes on the faint spire of the Tour d’Eiffel as I coasted into Charles de Gaulle airport, I didn’t jump for joy. Nor did I say anything at all. I just let a little smile rest on my face as I thought to myself, “That’s really it, isn’t it?” It felt familiar, like I have always known it. It felt like coming home.
This was a feeling that was to characterize my entire first day in Paris. I had been studying Paris and France for almost two months prior to arriving, but it was nothing like I expected it to be, and everything I had expected it to be at the same time. Yes, I was completely surprised when I got off the RER, took the stairs above-ground, turned a corner and saw Notre Dame de Paris towering above me. Yes, I almost peed my pants with joy when I crossed the Seine and heard a street performer serenading the passersby with real accordian music. Yes, I melted with delight as a savored my sandwich de jambon et fromage and my petit chocolate gateau, but, no, it did not feel foreign, nor did I feel out of place. What I mean to say is, though it’s all incredibly exciting, I get it– it fits. Paris is an old friend already. I love speaking the little French I know, I love walking around gazing at the centuries old architecture, I love interacting with the French, I love watching the pulse of the city—the crazy drivers, the chic Parisians, the people-watching café goers, the pigeons, the golden light of sunset covering the pavement as I walk to dinner. I have only been in Paris for a total of 12 hours as of 23 minutes ago as I write this but I am already at home.