Sunday, May 16, 2010

Paris, Je T'Aime

In the much renowned poem “The Lake Isle Of Innisfree”, Yeats depicts the rocky island as his personal pastoral utopia, his ideal world, if you will, to which he wishes to escape to. In this way, the poem has a universal appeal in that everyone at some point shares this desire to escape to a better world, a happier place in which they imagine they’ll feel more at home with it’s sights and sounds

But enough about "Willy Yeats". Paris, as the unquestionable centre-point for culture and what not dans le monde is my own Innisfree, though I feel it’s safe to say I succeed in perhaps being more realistic than Yeats, in that I don't make such bold statements as “I will go now”. No, as much as it pains me to come to terms with the fact that “great things really do come to those who wait”, I’ll wait impatiently for the time to come, bags packed and all, to take utmost advantage of my EU citizenship and be gone without a trace.
You see, Paris possesses particular significance to me in that it is my escape plan, my resolution to all the problems that I face during my angsty teen years and the likes. I take satisfaction in the knowledge that I can start afresh in my move to the European hub of activity.

Growing up, my mother used to eagerly and excitedly recount the years of her life spent living in the city of romance. She’d pull out the scrapbook she kept in her pre-parental days at random, and the hours would pass by as she’d recount her tales from an era in her life long gone, and we’d sit ‘round, grinning and bearing it, knowing, even at such an early age, how much these glory days of her life meant to her. She may have left France over two decades ago now, only to return occasionally as a simple tourist, the ultimate “demotion”, but she never quite moved on. Even to this day, it’s as though a part of her never left Paris
A prime example of this is the fact that, be it here at home, during a holiday in France, or even in a busy Nottingham city square, my mother is notorious for exclaiming “Ah, Merde!” whenever the opportunity to do so arises, much to the amusement of passers by who possess even a basic understanding of the language, and much to our embarrassment

Her influence, her not quite so subtle alternatives to saying the years she spent in Paris as an illegal immigrant were “super bien” and she’d highly recommend such an adventure of sorts to anyone, didn’t stop there either. Oh no, if it came to it, she’d have no shame whatsoever in resorting to gross exaggeration and would even, on occasion, indulge in the glib and oily art of duplicity to get her point across. If ever she thought she could get away with, she’d lead on that she’d spent a significant portion of her life living there, when in actuality, she’d left after two years “and a half”, opting to move on to bigger and better things, in finding employment in a ski lodge in the French Alps.

She still, to this day, mentions in passing, whenever she can, that she starred in a renowned French movie “Marche A L’Ombre alongside a yet more renowned French actor, one “Michel Blanc”, avoiding, of course, mentioning that she appeared in said film as a mere extra, if at all she felt she could get away with doing so. She’d sigh softly whilst recalling with a nostalgic tone how she’d rejected a proposal from a Portuguese man, and take a moment to pensively ponder how her life might be, had she accepted. She’d then proceed to giggle hysterically to herself, without saying why, the woman of secrets she is

Looking back, “Joe Le Taxi” was the first pop song whose lyrics I could recall almost without error and with ease, an interesting enough thought considering not a word of English features in the tune. This I have my mom to thank for, along with my love for the French language, all things French, and ultimately, my love for the French city that sparked her own passion for all of the above, which she passed on to me almost as though it were a genetic matter, a dominant gene in my biological make-up she was responsible for.

Though very much aware that I was very possibly receiving a grossly exaggerated version of the truth, I found myself sub-consciously developing some rather flamboyant connotations with the French capital. With time, I began to perceive it as place where happiness was a given, where one’s wildest dreams could and would come true, and most importantly, where one is almost guaranteed to spend the best years of their life.

The life I have here in Cork, as much as it would be envied be a myriad of peoples of all sorts, including, no doubt, a number of Parisians, I quickly became bored with, as a result of these thoughts and ideas that had filled my head without so much as my contents. I’d been convinced I wanted bigger and better things in life than anything a city as small as Cork has to offer. As much as I’ve come to love the city I grew up in, I find myself restless and itching to leave the “banks of my own lovely Lee” only to start a new life from scratch in some foreign city, on the banks of the Seine. Thanks, Mom.

A miniature Eiffel Tower figurine, bought in a Euro Disney trinket kiosk, stands assertively on my tv, watching over my bedroom. It serves as a juvenile attempt to bring a little bit of Paris into my own home. It is far from the 1000+ feet height of the actual tower, and does not boast a revolving beam of light on its top, but for now anyways, it will have to do. I hope that one day, I will look out my bedroom window only to be met with the sight of Gustave Eiffel’s actual creation, even if only on a temporary basis

On both precious occasions in which I laid eyes upon the structure, I found myself powerless to the euphoria and heightened glee that swept over me, whilst grinning stupidly at it, the amateur tourist I am. The first time it were as if I was being introduced to a stranger I’d heard so many good things about, from a host of reliable sources, the second, it were as though I was being greeted by an old friend. On the latter occasion, it was a much easier task making sense of these overwhelming emotions I was experiencing. The tower, as a symbol and icon of the city of Paris, also served as a symbol for what the city had come to mean to me. The guaranteed happiness, chance encounters, life-changing experiences development of sense of identity and of purpose I almost expected to one day find In the city all summed up in 7,000+ tonnes of metal, and I, as a boy of 16, could hardly take it all in.

1 comment:

  1. Ok before anyone who reads this accuses me of being excessively pedantic Michael asked me to 'perform an in-depth analysis' on this post and its suitability as a leaving cert personal essay so that is where any critique stems from. So now that I've explained that... I think this is a great blog, really enjoyable read, as usual, but if you want to mould it into a personal essay I'd suggest a few minor changes. ""I succeed in perhaps being more realistic than Yeats, in that I do make such bold statements as “I will go now”."" -change 'do' to 'don't', may seem trivial but I read it three times in confusion trying to make sense before I realised you simply meant don't (maybe I'm just exceptionally slow on the uptake though- lol). The only real issue with this is you spend too much time discussing your mom and her feelings regarding Paris. This works well in a blog but in a personal essay you’d probably be penalised (not harshly in this case, but still). The key word is personal. It’s ok to spend maybe a paragraph, or 2 max, considering it’s relevant to establish where you got your interest in French culture. However, if I were you I’d cut out completely the paragraph beginning ‘Her influence, her not quite so subtle alternatives..’ You should be ok with the rest left in. The reason it’s so important to focus on the ‘personal’ element is because the manner in which they mark you makes you suffer if you stray any bit from the question and task at hand. They mark on that PCLM scheme, Purpose- 30, Coherence- 30, Language- 30, Mechanics- 10. The nasty thing is that if you get, say, 25/30 for purpose, they then mark you out of a maximum of 25 for coherence and language. It’s quite evil really but that’s why it’s so important to fulfil the criteria of the question. The rest of the essay is excellent. The only other alteration I’d suggest is to change the ‘all summed up’ in the final sentence to ‘encapsulated’, just for a bit of a punch at the close. :p So yeah, it’s excellent really. I’m no corrector but I reckon you’d get an A+ :) hah.

    Wow, I really get way too into this correcting malarchy.