The biggest hurdle I frequently face in Paris is the weather. London may have the reputation for inclement elements, with its downpours and fog and Dickens-like dampness, but in my opinion Paris is equally as torrential if not worse. Though there are days filled with sun and light and even occasional heat in the summertime, the gloom that permeates the atmosphere when the clouds linger overhead is virtually oppressive. There is forever a dampness in the air that does nothing good for my spirits and, once cold is added into the mix, makes me want to nestle in a mountain of blankets until spring reappears. Not to mention the fact that it utterly destroys any attempt to create curls of happiness that halo my face and provide a buffer that effectively wards off evil. Instead, it adds a layer of melancholy to the already brooding French spirit that I frankly feel strangled by, especially after a night of one too many glasses of wine. Hangover plus gloom equals unnecessary angst.
In many ways, this pervading ambiance reminds me of the river of pink slime that saturated the sewers of NYC in that classic film, Ghostbusters 2. The city and its inhabitants grew increasingly cranky, bitter, and proactively mean as the ectoplasm filled their souls with negativity. While New Yorkers are stereotypically known for a lifestyle of fast-paced egocentric haze, they are not generally known for being proactively vicious. However, who wouldn't be aversely affected by overflowing slime, even if it does happen to be the best color in the history of the world ever? At any rate, I often feel like the damp clouds hovering over the Parisian skyline affect the natives in a similar way. The French are known for a strain of melancholy and inherent need to question optimism, wearing black, protesting for the sake of it, and generally feeling disgruntled for no reason. They are not unfeeling or aggressive or even sad. But the fog of angst finds its way into the toughest skin around on those days when the sun refuses to shine. Either that, or the gloom is actually the product of the Parisian spirit, making them more akin to the paranormal beings wreaking havoc on society... But let's not go there... As November is finally in full swing, I remain thankful for my location in the world and the culture I try (sometimes fruitlessly) to immerse myself in, but I can't deny that I am quite excited for visits from home, the holidays, and possibly a future of one day living farther south.