anna brones

writer + artist + activist

Is Paris Any Good or Not?

with 7 comments

Paris skyline

I’ve got thoughts about Paris and our notion of “home” in a new essay over on Medium. I have been meaning to write this essay for quite some time, and happy that it found a place in The Archipelago collection.

In the beginning, you feel high just from being in Paris. At dusk, the light hits the buildings just so. You find a bakery that makes the best almond croissants in the world. Nothing can get you down. But then eventually the downs do come, and they hit you hard, like a bucket of cold water in the face. Your bank meeting that was supposed to take ten minutes takes two hours. A taxi almost hits you while you’re riding your bike in the bike lane and you’re the one who gets yelled at. It rains. It gets gray. You try to go for a run and get hit on — “courage mademoiselle.” You spend far too much time arguing in French to get something accomplished that you didn’t even want in the first place. A certain dreariness sets in that you can’t seem to shake.

Like Bogart in Casablanca, I try to tell myself “I’ll always have Paris” — not the real city, with its homicidal cars and persistent men, but the memory, the good stuff. Eventually the daily frustrations will fade, and in ten years it will be easy to gloss over the frustration and be one of those people that casually throws “that time I lived in Paris” into conversation. It wasn’t just a ten-day trip, or a month abroad, I’ll tell people. No, I actually went and lived there. Wrote there. Ran there. Drove there. Called it home for a while. Even in the darkest moments, there’s something comforting about that thought. I’ll always have Paris.

In the meantime, because of my adopted city’s magical reputation, I don’t get to complain. “The apartment is tiny, I’m starting to feel claustrophobic.” “Yeah, but Anna, you’re in PARIS.” As if, once enough poems are written about a city, it becomes impossible to be sad there.

It felt good to write this piece. The editor challenged me to call it “Is Paris Any Good or Not?” but if anything it’s less about Paris and more about thinking what “home” means, and maybe even, where “home” is.

You can read the full essay here.

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Written by Anna Brones

July 23, 2014 at 08:23

Posted in Paris, Portfolio

Tagged with , , , , ,

7 Responses

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  1. Glad you finally wrote it! Great article 🙂

    thefallghost

    July 23, 2014 at 10:46

  2. Hi Anna, I landed in your website by chance and I thank you for this wonderful article, I feel exactly the same as you. As if you’ve been in my head, literally! I’m half Italian/Mexican, and been living in Paris for 6 years now. It’s interesting to know that I’m not the only one feeling this way. As you, I also miss the sun of my country, the warmth of my people, smiles, informality of relationships, my neighbourhood local stores, good old street food and the sound of silence…
    When my friends/family abroad say to me,”ohh, you must be living a dream!”, I always answer; yeah..Paris is like a very expensive whore, it will give you all you want if you can afford it.” I used to get gray, tired, nervous and claustrophobic about this city’s mess.. but as you’ve said, home is where you decide to make it, to which I add, happiness is a choice, not a place.
    So ever since I’decided to create a new sport, called shop-window licking =). and am getting pretty good at it! specially those of MOF shops, bakeries etc.
    Thank you again! I think i will have a nice time reading your book.
    Regards!
    Pietro

    Pietro Lembo

    July 23, 2014 at 18:03

    • Thanks so much Pietro! I had a lot of friends tell me that the piece resonated, which makes me feel like I did something right in writing it. Or at least that I am not crazy for thinking it.

      Anna Brones

      July 24, 2014 at 08:05

  3. I’m leaving for a week in Paris on Friday. I plan to run while I’m there and I promise not to pee in the street.
    I agree with your assessment that home is pretty much where and what you make of it. One of these days I hope to be living above the tree line, figuratively, not literally. Well, maybe literally. In the meantime…I’m off to Paris which is nice work if you can get it.

    pscapp

    July 24, 2014 at 00:30

    • Thanks for not peeing in the street 🙂 Enjoy Paris! There are a lot of great things to see!

      Anna Brones

      July 24, 2014 at 08:04

  4. Ive been told that Paris is incrediably lonely if you are not coupled, and very expensive. I’ve never visited, but to me, it sounds so romantic and I have completly fallen for the poems and the rom coms, I shall report back when I’ve ticked it off the list. 🙂

    Anna @ shenANNAgans

    July 24, 2014 at 06:30

    • ha! sounds good 🙂

      Anna Brones

      July 24, 2014 at 08:03


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