There is no time to write in Paris. There are wrought-iron balconies, enormous pigeons, and lots and lots of dust, but there is no time to write.
There is time to do other things, though. There is time to walk across lush green lawns, speckled with magenta peonies and set off on all sides by enormous palms; there is time to rush through corridors, in museums and mausoleums and Metro stations; there is time to take pictures in front of beautiful things, like all the other tourists do.
There is time, but not enough. There is sunshine and cerulean sky bouncing off ancient limestone, and there is rain drizzling through halogen lights. There are crêpes, light and crispy and soft, on every corner.
There are a lot of people in Paris, but not too many. Not if you know where to go, and when. Le Marais is best in the morning, before 10 o’clock, when the shops are still closed but Le Musée Picasso is just opening, and you can head to the top floor and keep all the colors and misshapen proportions to yourself.
There are Parisians in Paris, and if you’re especially lucky, they will mistake you for one of their own. They will draw you on the train, in tiny red notebooks with lined paper, and they will serve you in cafés. If you’re smart, you’ll order a peachy aperitif and sorbet, because the vanilla kind comes inside a frozen orange, and there’s really nothing better in the entire city.
À Paris, les fenêtres sont toujours ouvertes. In Paris, the windows are always open. This is true in the bedroom, overlooking the courtyard; in the kitchen, leading out to the terrace; in the classroom, where, from any of the desks in the back, you can see Le Tour Eiffel towering in the distance, a delicate contrast with the cloudless July sky.
There is no time to write in Paris, because there is too much time for everything else. There is time to learn French, to marvel at Degas, to count the plumes of dust as they billow from tourists’ sneakers in the gardens. There is even time, occasionally, to call home. But the writing is something that will happen stateside, after you’ve absorbed all the city has given you these last few months, and the dust settles in your soul. It is, at once, the most temporary and permanent souvenir you will collect.