I've lived in Paris for nearly three years now, and I'm a little ashamed to admit that there are still not many things that make me nostalgic about the city. Of course, the Eiffel Tower at night takes my breath away, and the colors of autumn and spring make me feel hopeful, but my connection with the city is not yet strong enough to make my heart pound. Still, I have had some very perfect moments in my life here that I've found myself getting caught up with - ones that produce a feeling of utter, raw happiness in my soul and cause an involuntary smile on my face or chuckle in my belly. Today, I very simply made a moment like this. One that I will probably attempt to repeat in the near future, but will likely fall short of doing.
It was my lunch hour and as it usually goes, I had no idea where I felt like eating. I tend to come to work starving, but completely lose my appetite by noon. I'm weird. So, as I've been doing all week while everyone else in my department is still on holiday, I set out and went where the wind took me. Well, the wind today (lovely as it's ever been) took me to Bert's, a little, well-known lunch hotspot of sorts where I've been only once before. I got excited to see the big bags of Pepperidge Farms Chunk cookies, Tim-Tams and Reese's peanut cutter cups on the shelves next to endless assortment of cold salads and dessert cups.
I picked out my lunch (paprika chicken fusilli and pineapple pieces), took it to-go and had every intention of returning to my office to eat in front of the computer when I spotted an empty, lonely green bench in the square nearby. As I sat and ate my lunch, I watched and judged the passersby - the tourists on vacation looking for their next destination, the American interns heading back to the office after lunch, the busy businessman running to make his meeting, the tired security guard on his smoke break. Everyone had their perfect place in this scene. I looked up and saw the green leaves of the tree shading me outlined in orange against a piercing blue sky. Autumn is so close now. The wind was cool and the sun was warm, and I felt the quiet rumble of the metro echo through the bench seat every five minutes. This is Paris. This is the city that I'm starting to love and feel a part of - a reflection that until that very moment would not have been true.
As I finished my pineapples, a young city worker in a neon yellow vest and green jumpsuit rolled by me with his wheel barrow full of shovels and wished me a genuine bon appétit. I knew that this type of interaction could only happen in such a perfect moment, and after giving him my thanks and wishing him a good day, I sat back on my bench, felt my heart swell and smiled. Perfection.