As my fall semester is coming to a close and I am preparing for my two weeks of travel to NYC and London, I have been thinking about many of the little Parisian intricacies I've noticed over the past few months...
Last weekend I went out with a French friend that I actually met through language exchange in NYC. Though we originally intended to try out Buddha Bar for a cocktail, we ended up across the street at what we assumed was a typical French café, but where oddly all of the waitstaff was wearing kilts in the Scottish tradition. As we sat in the enclosed outdoor seating with heaters blasting, I looked around and noticed that many of the chairs had cozy looking blankets draped over their wicker backs. On my way to class two days later, I noticed that another café had a similar set-up. It reminded me how Parisians will really find a way to sit outdoors no matter what the weather or circumstances, and they somehow manage to make it far more charming and romantic in the process.
And speaking of cafés, I am constantly convinced that the French have a very different perspective on hydration. It is a culture where bottled water and sparkling water run rampant but whenever I ask for une verre or un carafe d'eau, I am given the smallest possible amount. Even when at the houses of students or friends, when I ask for water, the glass offered is always only half full (taking the more optimistic approach). For sensitive, dehydrated Angela, 3 bottles of wine followed by a teaspoon of water just doesn't seem like an appropriate balance.
Two things about the Paris metro have been lingering in my mind lately, one involving the in-transit entertainment. Coming from NYC, I am used to all manner of vagabond performances, ranging from instruments to evangelists to acrobats. In Paris, however, the main novelty is a makeshift sound system on wheels, providing boxed music for mediocre singers of a gypsy-like flavor. It's a thoroughly strange phenomen in my book. That, and the fact that in Paris there are turn styles reserved for entering the metro, and separate gateways for exiting. Rather than being stuck waiting for a rare moment where you can leave through the same passages people are entering through, Paris has long since realized that it alleviates many difficulties when directing traffic.
Finally, the men... I have yet to confirm if French men are less or more complicated than American men. At the very least, they are far more obvious in their flattery. You are rarely left to guess whether they think you are beautiful or amazing. However, with all of those words adds a different level of vagueness, leaving you wondering if a kiss and a compliment ever result in a real moment where you discover that you might just be more special than most other girls they have met before. I have recently been spending time with a man who frankly made me feel much more special than most men have of late. Though we met through language exchange, it became clear almost immediately that we had way too much to talk about and that my limited French would simply not withstand the creative musings we pondered daily. Instead, we became good friends, to the extent that two people of similar ages, with so much in common, and mutual attraction could be. He has a soul mate and I am trying to get over someone, which generally results in a rather turbulent recipe for disaster. The fine line between friendship and more was too easy to cross and we realized that friendship isn't possible at this time. However, as he was already in tune with my magical side , he showed up to our last meeting with a 6 pack of kinder eggs and one giant holiday special kinder egg. After dinner, I insisted that he have one with me, as a symbol of festivity and friendship. To my utter amazement, we ended up having the exact same kinder toy, a small pony accompanied by a golden glitter saddle adorned with a purple star you could wear as a ring. We actually joked about how we obviously must now be best friends forever and wear our glimmer rings eternally. I somehow managed to lose my pony over the course of the evening but arrived home and even woke up the next morning with the ring still firmly placed on my pinky finger. Though we had realized that this was not the right time for our star-crossed connection, I can't help but smile when I think that we must have been kindred spirits for some reason, ponies and rings commemorating our fleeting attachment.
Sometimes I think that I am incapable of allowing myself to be truly happy, my own worst enemy by far. But then I realize that every day I find something small and beautiful to delight in, so I can't really be that far from happiness if the little things still make such a difference.