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On the morning of August 7, the skies of Paris poured rain down upon the streets and turned the man-made beaches that lined the Seine to mud. The cool, humid air took me back to October, when the leaves were turning from green to orange and I was wrapped in scarves and sweaters, wondering why on earth I had moved to this dark, dreary place.

Ten months later, I can say that doing so was the most consequential decision I’ve made in my entire life. While I may never be able to accurately or fully describe the transformation Paris provoked within me, I will always be able to say that had I resisted this transformation, I would be a lesser person than I am now.

I spent my last night in Paris walking in the sand of Paris plage (Paris’s man-made, river-side beach), wearing stilettos and pink lip stick, laughing with the most inspiring woman I’ve ever had the pleasure and privilege to get to know.

The Seine sparkled. The Eiffel Tower glowed in the distance. I took off my heels and let the sand seep into the spaces between my toes. My life resembled a postcard for a moment, and then I remembered that this was no photograph. This was-is-will-be my life.

dolled upsmiling by the seine

I owe that—the surprising construction of my second home—to a handful of unique, remarkable, unforgettable individuals. Merci infiniment à toutes et à tous. Sans vous, j’aurais été perdue.

***

5 August 2013, sitting atop my roof, on the eve of my last day in Paris

Paris, ma chère,

No photo could capture your austere and elusive beauty. No painter could portray your cracked, crystal facade the way I see it through my eyes. Des fois, j’ai l’impression que je te reconnais; des autres fois, je sais que nous sommes, entre nous, des personnes inconnues. And yet, after only one year, I cannot imagine my future without you. You remain burnt into my spirit like a freckle burnt into porcelain skin. You made no lasting mark in the beginning, but after so many months of soaking up your essence, you finally became a permanent part of me. Je t’aime, même si tu m’as fais mal, car on sait que tu m’as fait beaucoup plus du bien, et ça continuera pour toute ma vie.

last rooftop shot

The sky as I wrote. 

Mais quoi de notre vie, notre avenir? I wish I could answer myself. I wish I could say “au revoir, et à bientôt.” But all I can hope for is une prochaine. Il y en aura une. Je te promets—fin—je me promets.  I will not treasure you like a souvenir. I will not walk through your reeking and brutal underground, meander through your immaculate and mysterious gardens, run through your deserted and tranquil avenues on a Sunday morning, the fresh scent of bread escaping boulangerie doors and tempting my nose, as if I were traveling through the labyrinth of my memory. I will not lose the sweetness, the stench, the song in endless remembering. For that would imply that all we have together is past.

Until 14h15 on August 7th, mon amour, you are my present. Et à partir de ce moment là, tu feras partie, sans doute,  de mon futur.

À la prochain alors,

Savannah

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