|Summer night in Paris|
Slowing down is difficult. North Americans multi-task everything at rapid speed and much of our lives are a competition to see who has the least amount of personal time and is the most stressed. Work-life balance is meaningless to most and everything is scheduled: girls' nights, boys' weekends, date nights and play dates. We eat entire meals in our car while illegally texting. Coffee is always "to go".
It's different here. Even on week days, it's rare to see a Parisian walking through the streets with a coffee. They sit, even if just for 10 minutes. Greetings between friends are warm and genuine. I can't tell you how many times I have been standing at the checkout counter at Monoprix only to be interrupted by another employer coming over to bisous the cashier. Dinner is an experience, not a race. Always wine with dinner and always finish with coffee. No rushing to get your cheque while still chewing your last bites.
I have learned to be still in Paris. I have learned that an extra five minutes doing something enjoyable isn't going to ruin my day or make me less productive. I am going to try to not start every conversation when I get home with, "I am so busy."
You can't be happy in Paris without being patient. If you fight its rituals and idiosyncrasies, you end up being mad, miserable and sweaty. Parisians have mysterious reasons for doing things in specific ways. Last month I went to pick up a custom made saddle pad at a large sports store. I stood in three different lines, spoke with four different clerks, showed two different copies of my receipt and finally left with my perfect saddle pad. Last night I stood behind a woman during boulangerie rush hour who spent an inordinate amount of time picking out the perfect macaron decorated cake and petits fours. She even turned to me to ask if I thought one of the macarons looked crooked on the cake. The line was out the door and customers leaned against the window to wait - deux minutes! - for fresh baguettes. The two women working made time to come out from behind the counter and give each waiting child a pre-dinner choquette.
At home I roll my eyes and sigh loudly if I have to wait an extra two minutes for my Starbucks coffee. I swear and slam my foot against the floor of my car when I miss a green stop light. For what? I am only making myself crazy and nobody else cares. Paris has taught me to stop fighting the little things and live in the moment.
Every day I see dozens of classic, chic, perfectly groomed Parisian women spiking down the streets in their Louboutin's. Their hair is just out-of-bed-fabulous and their clothes fit like a second skin. But there are just as many others sporting MC Hammer style pants with black studded biker boots or super short-shorts with ripped tights and beaten-up high heels. The majority of them smoke and their preferred handbag is a stained canvas tote. They have roots and chipped nail polish. And they look beautiful.
They look beautiful because they are confident.
I do make more of an effort in Paris but I also worry less about looking perfect. At home I obsess about every outfit detail, every wrinkle, every hem and every heel height. Here I match polka dots with stripes, wear my Converse with a blazer and still feel beautiful.
|Carousel horse named "Paris". "Paris" is written on the green band on its neck.|