What I Miss the Most
People always like to ask me what I miss most about Paris.
It’s kind of a sad question to sum up such a beautiful year. My answer always changes, depending on who I am talking to and my mood at the moment. “The baguettes. Picnicking in the park. Train-travel to chateaus on the weekends. The pretentiousness of it all. ” And those are all true. But the more people asked, the more I realized it isn’t a one thing that I miss, it’s the one bit of all of these things that I miss. Finding wonderment. The truth was, every day that I stepped outside my studio and stared down those seven flights of stairs, I knew the climb back up would be worth it. Because every day in Europe, the moment I stepped out the door, I was finding wonderment.
Now, please excuse me if I am about to hurt your feelings. But I’m not talking about thinking something is really cool or pretty or awesome or amazing or fun or weird or crazy or nice or different. No it’s not appreciating the little things, or thinking some new fact is really interesting. It’s not at all even an “ah-ha!” moment. Wonderment is an different thing, entirely. It creeps up on you so you don’t see it, nestling beside you, ready to spring. Then you are hit with it. Victory and understanding and insignificance of self all smash into one another in some galactic intersection of your brain. No, your heart. No, spirit. No, all of it. Wonderment is realizing all at once the full beauty and nothingness of something, and it will break your heart and make you ache for more. It leaves you breathless and paralyzes you and makes you feel like you know nothing and are nothing and that the world is full of so much more than you ever dreamed, and you want it.
I think as children, we experience this wonderment much more often than as adults. Perhaps its why only when I was reduced to the perspective of a child, where all the world (literally) was new and strange and complex, that I became accustomed to the daily task of seeking and finding wonderment. When I appeared so foolishly on the outs of society, when I was forced to relearn humility of place, in setting aside my fear of wanting to seem trendy and witty and on point, only then I could be obliterated by the wonder of something.
That’s what I miss most about Paris and my year abroad, friends. Finding wonderment in the everyday, the extraordinary, the things both familiar and bizarre, the people, the places, the sidewalks, the benches, the smell of yeast wafting though terracotta-dotted rooftops as a sun, still pink from a long night’s sleep, stretched its glistening limbs and announced Day. What I miss is the wonderment of it all. But now that I have found it, I will always be seeking it. I hope you’re with me as I find it, again and again.