A couple of weeks before leaving for Paris, my girlfriend broke up with me. I’m fine. I’d been feeling it for about a month and a half, so it’s no big deal. My friends, attempting to alleviate with humor and forward thinking any pain I might have been feeling from being dumped, alternately told me to either A) fall in love for the summer with a nice girl in Paris, or B) don’t fall in love with a Parisian girl. My friend, in both groups A and B, know me well.
Girls are everywhere. I’ve lived in quite a few very different places in my life, and the one constant in all of them is the presence of attractive women. (I am now going to dispense with repeating the redundant adjective “attractive.”) That statement shouldn’t have to be made considering that women make up over half the human population of the planet. There are very few places on earth one might look where women will not be present. The upper echelons of ecclesiastical and political power structures and are two such places, but that is besides the point. Furthermore, as a young, single man, I have no desire to go to places where women are not present, other than the occasional bar with my male friends, and even then, women are the focus of much of our conversation amidst the grunts and long periods of silence.
(I am about to progress with a series of vague generalizations. Understand that each generalization is completely untrue about the specific women I’ve known in each place I’ve lived and completely true about the lot.)
Girls are everywhere, but girls are not the same everywhere. In Texas, girls are more proper in public and more opinionated in private than girls I’ve known in other places. At Texas A&M, girls just wanted to get married. In Montana, girls are a bit rougher and adventurous than others. California girls are lighter, sunnier, and everything they think, feel, and want is on the surface of their personality. Parisian women, from what I’ve observed so far, are as prone to laughter as to rage and are only genuine.
And they have beautiful legs.
Paris is a modernized city, my mentor, Francisco, told me yesterday, and “modernized” means “built for pedestrians and cyclists, not cars.” This is a city of foot traffic. The rues and boulevards are tree-lined and mostly one way. There is a bistro on every corner and small bakeries on every block. The streets are straight, clean, safe, and easy to navigate. Paris invites its lovers to stroll.
It is also a city of fashion. L.A. and New York City are fashionable too, of course. People dress up there, but the American way is too show off. Our country is one where individualism reigns supreme, and so we tend to do all we can to distinguish ourselves from the equally individualized masses. Americans dress fashionably to be seen.
Parisians, on the other hand, dress fashionably to blend in. Paris is a city of beauty. Building fronts are clean. Awnings and bistro umbrellas are color coordinated with the rest of the street. The sidewalks are free of refuse. Paris is a city, the first I’ve been to, where everything seems to fit together in an aesthetically pleasing way. Even the language is lovely – voluptuous and yet succinct, filling the roundest spaces of happiness and narrowing to rush through the tight spaces of anger and sadness.
Even the people, men and women alike, fit together with Paris. Clothing is the epitome of fine without being ostentatious, bold in details in ways that highlight the clothing and by extension, the clothing of everyone around, instead of the person. It is summer, so the combination of breezy summer dresses and lots of walking translate into more shapely pairs of legs than I’ve ever seen in one place in my life. These legs are the very essence of Paris – grand and pedestrian, emotive and deliberate, fashionable and fitting.
Don’t worry, friends. I haven’t fallen in love with a nice Parisian girl for the summer (at least not yet), but I fall in love with a new pair of Parisian legs and the city which they so embody every moment.
Gene Kelly Was Here
These blog posts were all written in the summer of 2011. They chronicle my time in Paris completing an internship as part of my studies at Fuller Seminary. I worked at an art gallery run by missionary-artists ministering to other Parisian artists and got to know the missionary-artists working there.
I am including them here for you to read because I think they work well together as a series. I wrote them as a kind of narrative collage about what it means to be a practicing artist whose first commitment is to Christ and who seeks to share the love of Christ with other artists.