Paris, I will always love you. I have loved you from the very first moment we met back in 1997, almost 18 long years ago. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday and most often it feels like a lifetime ago.
Sunrise on the Seine
It was my first trip to France, and the first place I ever visited in Europe. I explored your narrow streets and gazed in awe as your complex history came alive right before my eyes. I strolled the banks of the Seine and as the sun dipped below the horizon, I easily understood why you are so affectionately known as the City of Light. I fumbled along with the 5 or 6 words of my high school French that I could still remember but you embraced my efforts and made me feel so welcome. I loved you fiercely and I knew we would be together one day.
Square Jean XXIII and Notre Dame de Paris
That day would finally come about 2.5 years later. I was not the same person as when we first met back in 1997 but you hadn’t changed. We would spend the next 8 years together. I was happy, so very happy. Every day with you was special and I continued to change in ways I never believed possible. You gave me so much: a new culture to embrace, a beautiful language to learn and many dear friends to share my new life. But best of all, you brought me my Frenchie, the most amazing man who would choose to make a life with me, wherever it may lead us.
Hôtel de Ville
And that life led me away from you. First to Nice and then even further away to South Africa. You set me free so that one day I could come back to you. And you knew I would be back.
Pont Alexandre III
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
I came back to you to ask for your help so that I could continue my life in this far away place I now call home. You see, I also love South Africa and I am not ready to leave her. But she can be oh so complicated at times. I suppose it is part of her charm. And she demands things at times it seems so as to make sure you really, truely want to be with her.
Views from Centre Pompidou
You told me you would be happy to help an old friend obtain a new South African visa. You welcomed me with open arms. I was thrilled to see you again and spend time with you. To wander your streets and reminisce about our past together. To see many of my favorite places and to rejoice in the fact that you never change. To
over indulge in some of the most amazing food that while found in other places, just isn’t the same (crêpes anyone?). To reconnect with so many old friends. The kind of friends that years and years go by but you pick up right where you left off so long ago.
Jardin des Tuileries
Fontaine des Fleuves – Place de la Concorde
Thank you Paris for an amazing 2 weeks. It was just like old times and I savoured every minute we spent together. At times my heart was torn, hoping you would reject my visa application and force me to stay with you. But you understand my heart belongs to South Africa now, and you set me free once again. Free so that if the time is right for us one day, I will be back again.
Paris, je t’aimerai pour toujours.
Trocadéro and La Défense from the Eiffel Tower
Sunset over Paris