I passed by BHV today and for the first time, I didn’t run inside with a list. I can go to BHV tomorrow. Or next weekend. Whatever. I’ve got time.
Paris without an agenda still feels weird.
I’m here for a long stay, after taking a package at my job. I’m writing my memoir for St. Martin’s Press. Normally, I’d be here for only four or five days, cramming everything in—a packed schedule of go-go-go. But not now. Now, I’m taking Paris in long strides. What I don’t do today, I can do tomorrow. Or the day after that. Or the day after that.
I have to get used to this pace, not just here in Paris, but the pace of being a writer. Days stretch out, unfold and take their own shape. Each day is different. Some days I sleep in and stay up late writing. Some days I just walk around and take pictures, jot down notes and observations, do social media promotion. But this pace, even though I’m working, feels like I’m slacking off. I’m still wound up from seven years cranking hard at the largest magazine brand in the U.S. I’m expert at filling every last second. Sitting idle is failure. Waste. A sin.
Flâneur: [flaˈnəː,French flanœʀ/] An idler, stroller, lounger, an urban explorer. In France, to be a flâneur is a good thing—someone who takes in the day, basking in the surroundings, the smells, the sounds. Someone who is okay with sitting still for an hour, or two, or three. And does it without feeling guilty.
Oops, you lost me there.
Having all this time has taken the pressure off. And I don’t like that. I feel all loosey-goosey; there’s too much slack and I’m flailing around. I create schedules of errands to keep me running like I’m used to. I tell myself I’m not doing enough each day. Haven’t written enough words. What the hell did I do all day? Before I know it, another day goes by.
But there’s always another after it. It’s life on an endless conveyer belt, always moving forward, always bringing another opportunity to do something, or do nothing. Days bleed into each other; I have to check my calendar to know where I am in the week. The strangest part: I’m not living for the weekend anymore, when I’d be able to enjoy the days. Every day is a day to enjoy. Every day is “me” day.
Could it be this is why I feel guilty? Is this way too luxurious for the likes of me?
But slowly, slowly I’m starting to feel Paris seeping in, digging its fingers into my tight muscles, unclenching the fist I’ve become. Stretching me out.
Slow down, I tell my racing mind. Stop. Look. You’re in Paris. You’re. In. Paris.
As I write this, I’m sitting in a café in the 4th arrondissement, sipping an Aperol Spritz. Feels like I’m on vacation—but, no—this is my life now. And I’m taking it all in, in long strides. Maybe this is how people live longer, happier lives. Huh?