Why is it that everyone wants to write about Paris? That artists, both from Hemingway and the Fitzgeralds to Jay Z and Kanye West, flock to the area? Is it the artistic glamour that is found all over the city? The calm that washes over you as you sit in café, sipping a café au lait, people watching or gazing out into the Seine from your perch on the banks? The awe felt at the dedication to keeping history preserved and integrated into daily life (even if that preservation pays off in millions of tourist dollars pouring in) with their apartments from the 1500’s? Or, maybe it’s the fashion, the alcohol, the food, the undertones of glitz and glamour in this city. There’s something about Paris: you can be in the dirtiest part town and see someone dressed impeccably well and feel that they are well-read and well-versed in life’s affairs. It’s the idea that anyone can look beautiful in Paris, no matter the budget. A Parisian woman can save for years to buy her first Chanel bag, channeling an inner beauty with her black cigarette pants, loafers, white blouse, her hair slightly a mess and no make-up (save for maybe a little mascara or a bit of rouge). Her look is simple, most likely cheap (minus that Chanel bag) with a lot of her items bought at the Monoprix down the street, and yet, it’s an iconic look. A look that millions of women all over the world will spend thousands of dollars trying to replicate. But, replicating something pure and beautiful is never possible.
The fashion and understated glamour is an undercurrent running through Paris, but for those who have been there, you know it’s more than that. It’s a decadent lifestyle that seems to take little effort. The tiny, cramped apartments are more than just a funny story to tell friends back home, more than that stereotypical lifestyle that is so prominent in movies. It’s part of the yearning for something more than just material, more than large homes and clutter. Living in a minuscule apartment while owning Louis Vuitton, Dior, or Chanel is something of a Parisian right. Spending liberally on high quality items, be them cheeses, chocolates, wines, or clothing is always the right move with Parisians. It’s always the desire that is important, the need for the purest form, the creativity unleashed in every mundane aspect of the city; you’re always dressing for lifestyle in Paris, never for comfort and ease. The most splendid apartments are large and baroque in their finishings with gilded gold throughout, but they’re not of the monstrous mansions you will find in L.A. or the many-leveled marbled apartments in New York. Even the most decadent things in Paris are simple.
So, that’s it, right? Artists, although they may not all admit it to themselves, love the decadence. Why else would you sit in front of a computer, a notebook, or a typewriter, banging out the ideas in your head? There’s something so egotistical about being a writer, an artist, that it’s nearly comical. We say we hate the spotlight, we’d rather be on the sidelines, and when it comes to showcasing our work we can be as shy as a preschooler on her first day. But, the glamour of life gets to us. The royalties come in, the attention is doted upon us, the drinking until 4am isn’t just to survive anymore – it’s to celebrate. What is more decadent than putting your thoughts onto any type of medium, bringing a little bit of you, piece by piece, into the spotlight and thrusting it into viewers faces – making them wonder over which character is the true novelist, what part of the painting is the artist, and if that song is the beginning or end of a great love felt by the singer.
When I look out my window I see trees. Trees and the great expanse of a prairie horizon. There is no glitz and glamour out here; instead, I find myself the most attentive to my actions and the most calm and meditative when in nature. There’s something soothing about being amongst living things that have lived for millions of years, surviving each and every type of apocalyptic problem. Growing back after the atrocities and becoming even stronger. The freshness to the air leaves a crisp feeling both inside and out. But, the sound of the Parisian streets beats in my heart, the laughter, chatter and tinkling of cups and plates in a café coarse through my bloodstream. The city calls to me, to my inner artistic ego. There is a yearning, a strong and faithful plea to come back to the city that makes me feel the most alive. A burning desire, one you can compare to that of missing a lover. Although I feel far-removed from it all and this is where I’ll stay, the glitz and the glamour, the ability to wear an absolutely breathtaking outfit no matter the time of the day, gets to me. The belief that any type of artistic dream is possible when you are within the city’s borders. The hope is alive, much like for those actors still slinging coffees in the local Starbucks in L.A., clinging to the hope that one day, maybe, they’ll be able to reach the Stars and live amongst them as an equal.