Paris Syndrome

This weekend was terrible. It all started Friday as most of America was getting home from work, greeted with devastating news that Paris was under attack. It was awful.

It was very hard to not be affected by the news. It felt like I had been attacked, which feels like a fairly common response to the situation because it was an attack on so many things we all love, in a city we all love. You kind of felt like you were watching your friend get the shit kicked out of them through a two way mirror, where you can see them be brutalized and yell and scream and try to help but they’re so separated from you that you that they only hve themselves. All you can do is send out a few Tweets, hoping they can help spread news on how people can find safety.

A lot of things have been written in light of the attacks which is an important but exhausting but important byproduct of Internet culture. There were very intelligent ideas for bringing down the attackers. The exploitative nature of modern American responses was skewered. Many wondered commonly as the events unfolded: could that happen to us? There were a lot of feelings for obvious reasons.

For me, it was a fucking downer. Paris has always stood as this heaven, this place that I want to be, this place that I feel a connection, this place where things are just right: Paris is perfect. Watching Paris burn was heartbreaking because of all violence against its people—and against an infallible city for the second time this year. If you know me, you know I love Paris a fuck ton. I will live there one day. This is some long term committment to that place.

One thing that resonated with me—something that celebrated the city and kept it’s magic amidst the misery—was a poem written by Victoria Kennefick that I caught from Poetry Foundation Friday evening. It’s called “Paris Syndrome” and it captures everyone’s experience of Paris. A bit dreamy and a bit cheesy, sure, but there’s something so lovely about that because Paris is decidedly not cheesy (charcuterie aside). It speaks to many of Paris’ strengths in so few words.

So, I leave you with this poem. Let it remind you of Paris’ power and richness. Hang in there, Paris. We all love you!

The Eiffel Tower erected itself in my head,
we couldn’t find the lifts, climbed the stairs.

Of course there were fireworks.

We stared at each other, rare exhibits in the Louvre —
you licked my
Mona Lisa smile right off.

Of course we were both in imaginary Chanel.

We drank warm cider and ate pancakes, yours flambéed.
I got drunk, my tights laddered on both legs.

Of course we experienced tachycardia at the Moulin Rouge.

Our hotel, a boxed macaron on a navy boulevard —
we spun around in the dark outside, rain-dizzy.

Of course we slept at the Ritz.

Our little room tucked into the corner, a pink
pocket you slipped into that night.

Of course our fingers hunted for change.

In the mirrored elevator I couldn’t meet your eye, I
crushed you into the laminated sample menu and died.

Of course it was only la petite mort.

Photo via.

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