Not the Same Paris
Covid has changed the world. It’s strange to think that many of us will have before Covid and after Covid lives. Like the kids who were born after 9/11. We’ll use it as a measurement of time. “Oh yeah, I used to do that… before Covid”. Some of us will be really, really good at having no distinction, and some of us will long for the days pre-Covid. I don’t think anyone (besides those docs on Pandemic) could imagine this happening. I was a history major, and even I never paid attention to the Spanish Flu, much less contemplated a life where I went through one.
But it’s our new normal, suck it up right? I left Paris right before the shut down. I remember seeing less and less Asian tourists around Trocadéro, but I never really imagined what a Covid Paris would look like. I am very happy I didn’t have to live through Lockdown, but this new Paris isn’t quite the same. In the old one we didn’t have to show passes on our cell phones.
My Paris can probably be broken into chapters, but I don’t really remember all of the chapters anymore. I only remember Paris 2018-2020. While 4 years happened before that, I only equate Paris with those two years. I guess they were more significant than the rest.
That Paris was not easy, but I loved that Paris. I felt safe, I felt secure, I thought I had someone holding me up which made me think I could take on anything. Love makes you invincible. It makes you say ‘I will not quit today because I have someone to live for’.
Coming back to Paris after that has been hard. Paris no longer felt like the city I knew. It felt odd. Like something was missing. Most of the time I want to avoid it because it's still pretty painful. I keep hoping I can push through it, and form a new Paris, but so far I've been unable to. So far it's just been pretty depressing.
By all accounts it should have been better. I came back with a job, I came back with money, I came back with an apartment. I came back better equipped to find my way because I had already lived through my shittiest parts of it (I hoped).
I was watching Buffy. I put it on in the Fall every few years (don’t know why I associate it with Halloween and Autumn). As I’ve seen Buffy at least 5 times (in its entirety), I can put it on and not be distracted. Because I’m now passively watching them (while I work), I’m watching all of the episodes I hate, which brought me to The Body. I usually skip it because no one wants to ever think of what it would be like to go through losing their Mum, much less watch something so heavy on what is essentially your junk food tv, but I let it play.
If anyone remembers season 5, it’s also where Buffy has to grow up and learn she's not Buffy the Great. She’s learning all of these sucky lessons like what happens when you’re not the strongest one, what happens when you get some annoying bratty sister out of nowhere, what happens when your boyfriend sucks because he adheres to patriarchal gender roles, and can’t handle a strong female, and what happens when you come home and suddenly your Mum is dead. Buffy after the high school years makes me long for it. The high school years were the best.
I swear I have a point to all of this. Hang in there.
It got me thinking about how we expect things to stay as they are, and how we are unable to cope when things are different from what we knew them to be. And how we have to roll with the punches and deal with it because what other choice do we have?
As I am not someone who glosses over things, just know that Paris wasn’t easy to come home to. Yes, I was in a better position. But in some ways I wasn’t. While I now have the means to be comfortable, I'm missing a big part, and what I consider the most important thing in life.
A lot of the time I think "I wish he could see this", "I wish he was here", "I wish he could be apart of this". I wish he had been here for easy Paris, and not hard Paris. I wish he could enjoy the fact that it's always sunny. Or sit in the park that's so close he would have loved it. A lot of the time everything feels wrong because he's not here. In a place it feels like he's always been. I miss having my partner in crime. Yes, he sucked, but we don't get to choose who we love, or who we miss. I only remember the good parts.
Paris has changed, and I know I have to. As someone who doesn’t like change, it’s really fucking hard. Harder than it is for most people. I hate change. It’s not just Covid. Maybe life would be easier without Covid, maybe it would be harder. The point is the world is off. If you're feeling that too, it’s not just you.
I don’t know if it's easier or harder because I skipped lockdown. But you’re not alone if you feel that way too. Paris has the annoying knack of attracting pumpkin spice latte girls who do it for the ‘gram. It's high key annoying but don’t feel bad when your Paris doesn’t look like that. No one is that perfect all the time. We’re all dealing with a different Paris. And it’s not easy. It's not easy at all.