I’ve been sitting here for a week now, trying to decide what to write. How does one even begin to put into words the joy of returning to something that you thought was lost to you forever? I’ve typed and deleted about a hundred sentences in the last half an hour…
I thought I might never return.
From years of financial turmoil to a decade of baby-making to a milk cow to a pandemic… the odds looked slimmer and slimmer with each passing year. Eighteen of them in total since I had my little apartment on rue de la Bucherie. But earlier this year, in true, ornery Angela form, I told my husband (who, thank goodness, understands me SO WELL)… I told him if they ever opened France up again, I was buying my ticket the day they did. I simply couldn’t take it anymore. The WHOLE “Parisienne Farmgirl” business plan, after all, has to have SOMETHING to do with Paris. For heaven’s sake. It couldn’t just be a memory forever. I had shed so many tears thinking I would never get back, but action was stirring in my veins. And, woe to obstacles when the spirit moves…
Well, I was true to my word. Mid-March, that headline came across the wire. No more tests, No more health passports. I Booked my Air BnB within the hour of the news.
Returning to Paris was like reuniting with an old friend. It was as if eighteen years had never happened. My feet hit the ground walking, and I didn’t stop for ten days. (A total of 81 miles walked and 500 flights of stairs in ten days). While you won’t see their darling faces on social media or in the videos, I had the complete honor of taking my two eldest daughters with me. I may have been returning to a true love; however, I got to watch them fall in love for the first time, and it was instantaneous. My sweet girls have never even BEEN to a city, and yet the noise, pace, and chaos of this incredible metropolis didn’t phase them in the slightest. They instantly fit in and fell in love.
We rented an adorable little studio in Montparnasse. With a comfortable sofa and a glass ceiling mezzanine, and a glass rooftop that we could open and close. We dropped our bags, washed the airplane off of our faces, and set off to explore our neighborhood. I’d stayed in Montparnasse before and was anxious to show them some of their dad’s favorite places.
The visual stimuli in Paris speak to an artist’s heart. There is a posh consumer world within Paris that I will never be a part of (Trust me, it looks super fun, but there’s that pesky price range issue). But it doesn’t matter; I can consume in my own way. The well-dressed people, the architecture, and the attention to detail never escape me, and these features are there for mass consumption at every turn.
I think this is one of the reasons I love living in the country because I have a landscape to create and design, and I can arrange it in a way that pleases my eye and makes me feel at home. There is something for me to behold in each rose garden bed and while our home is still a work in progress, in each different room of our house is something beautiful for my eye to land on. And I’ve done that with intention, great intention, as a matter of fact, for I find the world distasteful, abrasive, and harsh. Creating my own little world is very important to me, and I’ve chosen to do that in a remote, Northern Wisconsin peninsula. But perhaps I feel at home in Paris because I can rest my eye on beauty just about everywhere I look.
Visiting Paris means you are stepping into someone else’s reality; you’re stepping into another culture’s idea of beauty. You are stepping into another peoples perception of how things should be done. And you will either find it a pleasant, beautiful, or intriguing difference, or you won’t. For some of us, these differences inspire us. These differences complement some of the aesthetic ideals that we have in our hearts and our minds. In other ways, they challenge us, and that challenge is incredibly motivating. It is for these people that Paris can feel like an instantaneous second home.
Paris is not for everyone. Paris is for me.
Not all who visit Paris will have such an emotional response. Not all who visit Paris want to have or need to have an emotional response. It can simply be an incredible stamp on the passport and a fond memory. But for me, Paris is a portion of me, and it’s a portion of me I didn’t know I’d get to experience again. When I arrived, I not only greeted Paris as an old friend, I greeted a portion of myself as an old friend. “Oh, there you are,” I said to the Parisienne of my Farmgirl. “Life is very wonderful, and you are surrounded by people you would die for, and you have a home and a life that you love, but there you are, I forgot you, and I forgot what you felt like. Welcome back. I missed you and didn’t realize how much. “
If there’s something in your life that truly speaks to you – that’s a blessing. It may be a lake view. It might be the awestruck wonder as you look into the face of your child. That enjoyment you find there is perhaps a sliver of Common Grace, a gift from God, if you will? A sliver of beauty and enjoyment in a world full of strife. Having something that you ache for, something you find so enjoyable you can’t contain yourself, is not fanciful or nonsensical. You love what you find beautiful because you were made to love beauty. You were created by the Author of beauty.
I have so much more to share with you about Paris over the coming months. I’m grateful you are here and hope you find a touch of that beauty and encouragement.