I love you. I love your medieval squares and winding lanes. Your old stone steps to be jumped down, two at a time, because you're late for dinner, because everyone's late for dinner, but, merde! You might be the latest. I love your sidewalk cafes where a coffee only ever means an espresso, served piping hot, with a saucer. I love your markets filled with fat artichokes and furious red-aproned butchers and glistening tartes aux pommes. I love that my best friends were born in you and borne of you. I love that your waiters have never done anything but openly scorn my crappy French because this is a perfect and beautiful language, a noble language, to be spoken very well or not at all, non? Oh god do I ever I love your wine. I have literally loved your boys. I love your dress code of careful, expensive dishevelment. I love your pharmacies filled with stern-faced ladies in lab coats who care as much about early onset laughter lines as they do about a summer cold. I love your matriarchs (there's nothing like a French matriarch). I love that you are tough. I love that you are sensual. I love that Gene Kelly danced across you. That Flaubert walked, boots clacking on filthy cobblestones, all around you. That my parents, in the first flush of love, wandered through your streets under the apricot shade of a pink umbrella. That that's my favorite photo ever taken of my mother. I even love your infernal habit of being completely shut down on a Monday, because who cares about Mondays anyway. I love that you did not need me but I needed you. I truly love you, Paris, Pahree, la ville de la lumière.
In the old-time movie An American in Paris, the character Lise Bouvier says, "Maybe Paris has a way of making people forget." Her companion, Jerry Mulligan, replies, "Paris? No. Not this city. It's too real and too beautiful to ever let you forget anything."
Paris. To not forgetting. To being beautiful. To staying strong despite this unimaginable reality. I raise my glass, tip my hat and kiss you, oh so softly, twice- always starting left (where the heart is).
Mi amor, ma belle ville, je t'aime.