Letter to Paris, Katherine Sanders

In Katherine Sanders, nonfiction on July 31, 2011 at 9:12 am


I like how Julian Green writes about you,:

Until you have wasted time in a city, you cannot pretend to know it well. The soul of a big city is not to be grasped so easily; in order to make contact with it, you have to have been bored, you have to have suffered a bit in those places that contain it. Anyone can get hold of a guide and tick off all the monuments, but within the very confines of Paris there is another city (Paris, translated by J.A. Underwood)

Paris, even though I’ve visited you three times, I can’t claim to understand your other city. I’ve enjoyed you, been bored with you, gotten lost inside you, made discoveries about you, met interesting people inside you, felt alone and sad in you, but underneath all this I haven’t actually needed to be a part of you in the way I needed New York. I needed work, friends, stability, and identity that onlyNew York could give me and over time I found them. But in you, the surface-level-Paris, I needed space for wondering, for wandering. I needed to disconnect fromNew York. This is the beauty of being a tourist, a vacationer, a friend to a place that is beautiful because you see only what it wants you to see. After spending a month inParis I feel like I’ve finally begun to understand the other city of New York.


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