“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m possible” – Audrey Hepburn
After nine months of living in Paris, I still found myself feeling I was in a dream. I contemplated pinching myself as if, poof, I would wake up suddenly. I turned the key to my deadbolt lock and wiped my boots on my orange doormat that greeted visitors with a hearty Bienvenue. I walked into my well-adorned flat with floor-to-ceiling windows, which looked out to eighteenth-century rooftops; they often made me feel like I was in a scene from the movie The Aristocats. The charm was immediate. I had a fairly up-close-and-personal view of Notre Dame, and the bells ringing at the commencement of Mass never got old. They added to the adherent charm of the apartment, along with the wrought-iron safety bars and pots of flowers outside my windows. I poured myself a large glass of Michael Chapoutier Syrah vintage 2012, which I had purchased on a recent trip to the Rhone Valley, and gazed out to the sky. How did I get so lucky? Was this fate? What did it all mean?
When you are living in Paris as an expat, you never quite feel Parisian life is a permanent answer. It has this temporary energy behind it that suggests soon it could all be taken away. This feeling really pressures the mind to ponder and analyze if there is a deeper meaning to it all. It also calls for awareness of the situation, for not wasting time, and for an intense sense of gratitude.
My love affair with Paris started at the young age of twenty-two, when I went on a summer vacation with my college boyfriend. Just having graduated university, neither of us had ever been to Europe. We thought, Where better to start then Paris, France? It was either that or Rome, and we chose ten days in Paris.
Little did I know that decision would change my life.
We arrived in Paris after a long and debilitating twenty hours of travel from California, and hailed a taxi to our hotel, which was located in the trendy and chic Eighth Arrondissement. I will never forget my first pain au chocolat from a nearby boulangerie, which I devoured once we had checked into our hotel. The dough was buttery and flaked at the tear; the chocolate was rich, mouth-coating, and not too sweet. It was intense and bitter instead, layered in sweet pastry made with quality salted butter. Even not having stepped foot in culinary school yet, I knew. I knew in that moment this trip would change me forever. I was setting foot in a place I had never been, but there was this feeling that a piece of my heart was already there.