March 31, 2010

Springtime in Paris

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Paris.Where to begin?As I sit here in my French chambre, nibbling on Nutella – slathered baguette with one hand while fiddling my newly grown handlebar moustache with the other, it’s hard to choose what adventures to recap. As I indulge myself in some wine to get the writing juices flowing, let’s get all of the wonderful clichés out of the way first: Yes, I am having the time of my life. Yes, Paris is the most beautiful city in the world. Yes, the French are extremely silly beings. Yes, the food is delicious. Yes, everyone does indeed wear a French flag beret with a cigarette hanging on the cusp of their lips at all times. And yes, all French girls are beautiful.Spring is approaching, but the season has yet to present me its Parisian beauty in full bloom. I can taste the change of its seasons in the air, and with a few days of sun followed by rain, the glorious scent of wet concrete, mulch and buds has been activated. On the metro, gusts of warm air ruffle my hair through the train car windows, and I can’t help but smile. Along with the rest of the city, I’ve been flocking to the various jardins that dot Paris to enjoy the potential that we all know lays in the not-quite-green-yet flora. In my attempts to live the life of a starving artist as much as possible I’ve been maintaining a miniscule budget, dining on baguettes and salami with my fellow expats on whatever patch of grass we can find.This past week has presented the first true day of sun, and my friends and I may have gotten a little too excited. Meeting at Le Grand Epicerie (imagine Wegman’s high-class Parisian style, basically my dream come true), we purchased various ingredients to create a wonderful dinner on the go. The “heat” had clearly gone to our heads, as we washed our produce in the sinks of the Bon Marché bathrooms (Paris’ Saks 5th Ave) and then flâner’d to the Jardin de Luxembourg, only to find that it had closed with the setting of the sun. Never ones to be discouraged, we simply sat down on the trottoir outside the jardin and enjoyed our luxurious meal of baguette, several salamis, various cheeses, fresh tomatoes, apple juice, strawberries and coconut custard. As we dined, day turned to night and the glow of car lights illuminated our concrete dining room. I’m not really sure what the cut off point is between starving artist and homelessness. Either way, life is glorious.With the first signs of the sun, I’ve chosen to bust out the shades, shorts and sunscreen but I think that I may have been a bit overly eager. I barely escaped deportation for exposing my gams. Relative to the bundled Parisians still rocking their winter coats and scarves, I was practically naked with my checkered shorts and hoodie — and the sneering Parisians made sure I felt uncomfortable. Despite my lack of clothing, I managed to get my sexy sweat on, so Parisians either have no sweat glands or heat sensors — or I am currently undergoing a second pubescent period complete with hot flashes and experiencing hot-flashes. Whatever the case, shorts have debuted. There’s no turning back now.I may have made it seem like spring has arrived in full force, but she is indeed still taunting me. The heat and sunshine-filled week culminated in a grey, rainy, cold weekend. Last night I ran home from the metro in my first Parisian lightning storm, grinning like a fool. This morning, I went to Versailles with my host parents for a day of shopping and eating, and again was amazed by their generosity and awesomeness. Less awesome however, was the cloudy grey filter that blurred my vision, and the chilly weather that demanded layers of clothing and even a coat. Nevertheless, I plan on exposing my bare legs to the French at least once this week, and soon enough, I may just rock my birthday suit. If I convince myself it is warm out, the weather will change accordingly.Time is flying by. It seems like the end is already in sight, yet the beginning feels like it was just yesterday. June is approaching with alarming speed and I’m not ready to leave this magical city behind. Soon enough I’ll be back on the Slope for senior year. The summer holds its own adventures, but there is still much to be done in Paris. In a perverse turn of events, schoolwork, which was once a casual side project, has suddenly appeared in full force and seems to have the sole mission of cramping my style. I’m not worrying too much about it, but I wish all responsibility would truly disappear and the world would slow down just a tad. Perhaps I should simply start moving faster.As I finish writing this, Cornell has just beat Wisconsin to get to the Sweet 16. GO BIG RED. I’ve never been shy about my love for Cornell, but at this very moment I had an a-ha moment. Life is simply beautiful.  RLD

Original Author: Milos Balac