Cliches Reflected

Despite being a relatively well-traveled individual, till this past week, I'd never been to Paris. There was a laundry list of reasons why not. Parisians are rude. I don't know anyone there. It hardly seemed exotic enough. I don't speak a stitch of French. It's a cliche of a trip.

But it was exactly the cliche of Paris that drew me there this week. It was my birthday on Wednesday, and for once, I wanted to really do something to commemorate the day of my birth (the celebration of which, in the past, I'd always deemed a bit banal and self-indulgent). I liked the idea of marking the occasion with a journey to Paris: the city of the great love affair.

It was the very fact that you are supposed to go there for the first time with someone spectacular that made it an appealing place for me to go all on my own. The stroll along the Seine, the bridges, that iron tower, the notorious springtime: I wanted it all to myself. Wanted my first taste of the romance floating through the pink fuzzy air to be something savored without sharing. Wanted this symbolic sojourn, a poetic sign of devotion, to remain forever untainted, left perpetually pristine because I will always be my preferred company.

And in case you're wondering, going there by myself didn't alter the romance; didn't diminish the way it permeated the rose-colored atmosphere. Paris is indeed a beautiful fairytale of a city that evokes amour. In the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, I felt like I was in love. Wandering amongst the flowering parks and the sculptural architecture and the genteel people, who were extremely courteous, not remotely rude, I was positively giddy. I found Paris to be marvelous, not cliche.

And since the delight I experienced in making this discovery was all mine, that only made it even less so.

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