It’s hard to believe, but it’s been over six months (!!) since I went to Paris. The trip was a study abroad opportunity through my graduate school program. Together with 20 DePaul grad and undergrad students, I visited five different companies and learned about luxury marketing at the heart of this lavish city. After my week of studying abroad, Sam flew over to Paris and we spent another four or five days together.
Not gonna lie, folks: Paris wasn’t perfect. Sam and I were in a tough spot in our marriage. We tried hard to be normal while on this trip and, in the process, realized how drastically wrong everything felt between us. This trip was the peak of a volatile time in our relationship that lasted for months.
Paris could also never be the Paris of my past, the Paris I wanted it to be. I had the opportunity to study abroad in Paris for a semester as an undergrad junior but decided not to go. Taking a week to study abroad as a married graduate student is drastically different than spending a whole semester abroad as a single, slightly reckless undergraduate. Even in knowing that I couldn’t replicate a lost opportunity, this quasi-regret played a large part in me choosing this program as a graduate student.
In some ways, though, Paris was perfect. Paris was snowy, cold, wet, gray, and moody. We hardly ever saw the sun; it was not the romantic, picturesque Paris that so many people imagine. Every gloomy day seemed to mirror my inner turmoil, making me feel less alone in my emotional isolation. My fellow classmates groaned over the crummy, freezing weather, but I marveled at seeing the city in such a raw state: Paris for what it truly was, not what people wanted it to be.
There were other things that gave me joy. Paris gave me the chance to communicate in a language I hardly know, forcing me into uncomfortable social situations that were often rewarding. Paris gave me a snow-covered Sacré-Coeur perched upon a glorious white landscape. Paris gave me solo runs in the Champ de Mars, the park quiet and still in the early morning light while the Eiffel Tower loomed gracefully overhead. Paris gave me the entire Louvre courtyard to myself because the other tourists didn’t want to brave the wet, sticky snow and gusting winds.
So, yeah. Paris had a lot of highs and lows. Some things about Paris I don’t like remembering. Other things I’ll hold close to me, cherished, for the rest of my life. These memories overlap a lot in my mind and heart.
Still, I don’t want to sweep these photos—or my Parisian experience—under the “blog rug.” The lens through which I viewed Paris during those 10 days abroad says a lot about what was happening in my life. Looking at these photos six months later (when things are much better) provides intriguing insights into that part of my life. My photos from this trip feel darker, more anonymous, and subtly (abstractly?) isolated from context. They’re much different than the kinds of photos I normally take on other vacations.
Since a lot of what happened in Paris is highly personal, I’m not going to share detailed insights into what I did each day. Instead, I’m going to post short photo stories rooted around themes: places (shown in this post), people, food, architecture, and little details around the city. I hope you enjoy them!
Arc de Triomphe
Sacré-Coeur and Montmartre