Paris. The sprawling metropolis perpetually torn between past and future, beautiful architecture living peaceably alongside modern clubs, seedy brothels nestling up to disinterested artisan patisseries. The Eiffel Tower standing guard, metal giant over the city that was larger than any map could convey. Huge cathedrals, tiny bookshops, high end chain stores and tacky souveneir stalls. All kinds of people from all walks of life, people watching being the most popular pasttime of the population général.
In many ways, it is impossible to take you to Paris. Mainly because it’s different things for different people, but also because that Paris – the one with all the beauty of a sunrise behind Notre-Dame and the charm of sitting outside a bar for hours on end – that Paris doesn’t exist any more. The whole city, tout l’arrondissements, all gone. The place is a museum and anyone who visits it becomes another exhibit. No-one’s allowed above ground.
We tried to rebuild the city below, in the underground system that spreads like capillaries beneath the pavement skin. But Paris was lost. You can’t recreate a history out of dirt and concrete. You can’t be the City of Love if the stars aren’t there to be compared to. You can’t just call somewhere home because the geographic location matches. Home.
You know, there’s not actually a word for ‘home’ in the French language. Well, there’s a translation – domicile – but the feeling of home, the sense of belonging you attach to a certain place, it doesn’t exist. As if home is a concept we didn’t quite get hold of.
Why did I use it? Because maybe I need one. I need a place where I belong again. Because how can I be homesick when we don’t use the word?