When I was a child, my sister Katie and I would have “adventures” — that’s what we called them. We pretended to be nurses at a hospital, or had the power to communicate with animals. We ventured far and wide through the endless landscapes… of dad’s barn. We had stick horses and rode the prairie for hours.
We became obsessed with a movie serial called “The Black Whip” about a cowgirl whose brother — The Black Whip — is murdered. She takes over his job as owner of the local newspaper, and assumes his secret identity. No one knows The Black Whip is now a woman….
And so we made our own whips from broom handles and braided twine. We spun them through the air, lashed the trees in our yard, pulled down sawhorses, opened gates… we battled Bad Guys and used our Whip Skills to Save The Day.
That’s the power of imagination — we didn’t have to go anywhere to go somewhere.
Maybe I’ve never fully left childhood. I still love to visualize all sorts of possibilities and adventures for myself and my future.
Whenever I go to a new city I imagine I’m moving there. I look at apartments and real estate listings. I explore neighborhoods as if I’m choosing the right one. It feels very real to me — I experience excitement and disappointment, as if these choices were imminent and genuine. Just because I’m pretending doesn’t mean it seems false, if that makes sense.
In four weeks I will fly to Paris and spend a month getting to know that magical city.
I research online before I leave, beginning with understanding the process for getting from the airport to the apartment/hotel where I’m staying.
Last night, I looked up the Paris subway system — the Metro — and felt immediate intimidation.
Paris Metro Map
It’s a complex multi-track multiple train system with 303 stations! For comparison’s sake, San Francisco’s subway system has 44 stations. How do these cities compare in size? SF is larger, about 46 square miles; Paris covers 41 square miles.
(But New York wins, hands down: it has 469 stations. It has the largest public transportation system on the planet based on station numbers.)
My apartment is located in the 12th arrondissement, and is about 300 feet (100 meters *) from the Metro’s Nation Station. I will have easy access to any part of the city I want to see.
* I wish the United States had adopted the metric system. It’s difficult to determine who to blame. President Reagan for dismantling the United States Metric Board in 1982? American hostility (and apathy) to the notion? Only two other countries on the planet — Burma and Liberia — haven’t changed (though Burma is in the process.) The metric system was created in France and adopted there around 1799. It has a fascinating history. Whenever I travel, I have to refresh my metric system memory.
I’m already pretending I’m moving to Paris. I think it’s the puzzle aspect that interests me. What would it be like to live there full-time? My fledgling French (four semesters at Baylor) would be forced to grow till I was fluent.
What is the climate like? Which part of the city could I afford? Which neighborhoods are close to the things I need like museums and food markets? How would I support myself?
I better get cracking!
I have lots to accomplish in the next four weeks.
11 thoughts on “Will I Move to Paris? My Lifetime of Daydreaming”
I like to imagine that I’m already a resident of the place I’m visiting. I pretend that I live there: I rent an apartment, go to the neighborhood market for groceries. Of course, when I was in Paris, I’d stop by the boulangerie every day for a baguette! Have a great time in Paris and the metro isn’t too hard to figure out. Get a multi-day ticket for unlimited rides if you plan on riding it a lot. I believe I purchased a 5-day ticket.
Yes, I enjoy going to the grocery stores and local markets, too. I also like going to the movies in other countries, and doing what people do on a day-to-day basis. In Paris, I will be eating lots of bread.
You’re the third person to tell me the Metro isn’t as complicated as the map — thank you. I’ve always been able to figure out the trains but I was concerned this one might take some time. I’m buying the monthly pass because I will be using the trains daily to go to different neighborhoods, museums, bookstores, and more museums… and more bookstores.
Thanks so much for coming by and commenting, Lois. Give my best to Toni —
I think part of being a storyteller (and we all are, to one degree or another), is having that kind of imagination. I fully embrace this part of myself, which is why I still play tabletop RPGs at 40 🙂
I love this, too! And I do the same thing—I am always weighing my sense of a place, picturing myself living on my favorite block and so on. Oh, and I always say goodbye and thank you to any temporary “home,” too, be it hotel room or apartment and so on. I have thought of this often from your earlier post. I don’t think it is silly at all. I will even thank a pool after a swim, or a perfect little bench spot where I had my lunch. 🙂
I love it! I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who expresses thanks like this (I suspect we’re not alone…)
I am sure we are not alone, Bart. But it was very sweet for me to see you did this, too, when I first read that post. 🙂
Since writing this, I’ve heard from several people who pretend they’re moving to whatever place they’re visiting. And each of them thought they were the only one. That’s one of the benefits of the blog for me — discovering things about my friends I didn’t know.
LOVE this! EVERY WORD AND IMAGE! Especially “That’s the power of imagination — we didn’t have to go anywhere to go somewhere.” Appropriate for my kind… that would be actors! So exciting! A month in paris! oui oui wheeeeeee!
Oui! Un mois à Paris, quel régal!
CITY BOY! yes you are a city boy at heart I can see.
Maybe Everywhere Boy is more accurate… I spent a month in a very rural area of Finland this past summer — canola fields in all directions interrupted by stands of thin trees that are harvested every three years for lumber — and I imagined what would it be like to live there. In summer, of course, there’s 22 hours of daylight (the other two aren’t really night, but more like twilight) then in winter it switches to essentially 24 hours of darkness for six months. Maybe this is what you experience in Alaska, Sierra?