One Year Ago Today

From the top of the Arc

Rue Caulaincourt

In today’s “WTF, No Way” news: it was one year ago today that I embarked on my two month solo journey to Paris. I recognize the cliché inherent in saying, “It couldn’t have been a full year already,” and, “It feels like it’s maybe been a few months, at most,” but in this case those empty platitudes are so appropriate. How has it been a full year? How could 365 days have passed, when I can still feel the bite of the early morning cold on my cheeks as I made my way down Rue Blanche to the city center, when I can still hear the repetitive rumble of children’s scooters on the cobblestone street out of my apartment windows, can still smell the dusty, closed-in stairwell, as if these memories were from just last week. How? I remember things about those days more vividly than what I wore to work yesterday or ate for dinner on Monday, can recall the specific sound the thick white butcher paper made as the girl at the fromagerie folded it around my order every few days, can still conjure the scent of the wet concrete in the late-afternoon rain showers, am still comforted by the dizzy, exultant feeling I got from seeing the Eiffel Tower pop up around corners, above buildings, always asserting herself in my periphery, how it never got old being surprised by it. How can I still feel so close to those eight weeks, when they started a year ago today? It’s almost as if I absorbed them into my being, took them with me in my suitcases, wrapped the sounds and the smells and light into my clothes and brought it all home.

I remember oddly not crying on my last day, not feeling immediately nostalgic and wistful, but understanding in a truer sense than I was capable of before, that it wasn’t really goodbye.

I remember that, one year ago today, I was sitting in the airport, alone, and I’d called my brother to say goodbye, and I remember how soft his voice was when he said to me, “Pop would have been so proud of you,” and I remember the tightening in my throat, the pressure at the corners of my eyes.


Île Saint-Louis

I can’t pinpoint when my obsession with Paris started, but I know it was fed and stoked by my father’s death, as a way to keep him alive, to cling to something he loved. Did I make him proud by going? I’ll never know, but if my own sense of (surely vaulted and perhaps undeserved) self-pride is any indication, then I like to think that it would have. My fixation on Paris is genetic, unshakeable, and maybe that’s why I’ve kept those two months so vividly in the forefront of my mind.

Those sixty-one days were some of the most transformative, beautiful days of my entire life to date. I’m grateful for them beyond words, grateful for the opportunity to spend every day writing, grateful for being able to soak up as much inspiration and magic as the city could offer. I’m grateful I’m going back in a few weeks. And in many ways, I haven’t had any closure on that time, haven’t been able to move on from it, because I don’t want to. (Can you blame me?) I still have countless (hundreds) of photos I haven’t edited or shared with anyone yet. These are just a few.

Passage Landrieu

La Tour

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

18 thoughts on “One Year Ago Today

  1. it may be cliched, but it is also true that those big life events stay with us in a visceral and very real way that every anniversary thereafter seems surreal, even impossible. “how did [x number of years] already pass? it seemed like just yesterday!”
    well, i am so happy for you that you get to go back so soon and that you will never really say “goodbye” because it will always stay with you, as hemingway so famously put it.
    p.s. these pictures! ohmygosh, these pictures! i’m so glad you’ve got hundreds more yet to share.

    1. It does seem impossible. I know what the calendar says but I’m having a really, really hard time understanding it. Thank you so much for your sweet words! I do still have tons to even go through and edit, and I know with this next trip coming up it’s only going to get worse, haha. xo

  2. oh my. what a love letter. I have mixed feelings when it comes to Paris, very mixed, but your words… I get it. there is something magical about Paris. and I’m sure your dad would have been proud of you. how could he not have? and you’ll be back soon xoxo

    1. I totally respect your relationship with Paris, but am happy to have swayed you even for a second into being wholly charmed by and in love with it. ;) I guess it’s different when you live there full-time and are used to something different, but still, I envy you! Thank you for your kind words, P. xoxo

  3. Such wonderful, evocative words! It’s immensely comforting to know such distinct and beautiful memories can & will fill one’s head for a lifetime. I know it’s a previous post, but I think you’ll really enjoy Red Joan. I certainly am!

    Also, a belated congratulations on joining The Paris Collection blog!

    1. Thank you, Hillary! I do really take comfort in the fact that my time(s) in Paris haven’t left me, though by the same token it means I’m always thinking about going back, haha. I’d love to hear your thoughts on Red Joan when I finish (I haven’t started yet, was saving it for when I get back from Italy). And thank you for checking out The Paris Collection! That’s so sweet. xo

    1. Right?! A year? Preposterous. Maybe a month or two at most! ;) Thanks so much, darling. xo

    1. Aw, thank you sweet girl! And yes, you know me well. The pile of unedited photos from last year are only going to be added to with this trip. Not exactly a bad problem to have ;) xo

  4. We share an obsession for Paris, but you capture it in ways I can only dream of…your photos are glorious! Are you using a camera or a phone?

  5. I so understand your feelings for Paris… It´s well-known that we are many charing this love and fortunately Paris is there for all of us! I wish you a wonderful visit this time and many times to come. (My husband and I are going back for two weeks in July. Wonderful!)
    And – thanks for your beautiful photos!

    1. Oh, my fellow Francophile! The city has a way of sticking with you forever, doesn’t it? You are going to have such a great time in July! We’ll miss each other by a month or so. Enjoy our beautiful second-home. xoxo

  6. Le temps passe trop vite ! Un an déjà, c’est incroyable ! Tes photos sont magnifiques ! xo

    1. Trop vite pour moi! C’est vraiment incroyable, je ne peux pas croire qu’il y a un an deja. Comment?? xo

  7. Erin, you took a bold step with that adventure and I’m so glad that you documented it all for us to read about – hopefully there will be many more of that sort in the future

    1. Thank you so much, Roothers. That’s so kind of you to say. Here’s to many more (for both of us!). xo

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