Currently, I am obsessing over Airbnb apartments in Paris, which I have been doing for the last week so.
This is an activity I engage in fairly regularly; it’s a stress reliever, an escape, even when I don’t have an actual trip planned. I like to step out of my life for a moment and wonder where else I could be, what else I could be doing. It’s at the center of my adoration for this website, this community: trying on someone else’s life is, often, incredibly appealing.
This time, though, I’m actually planning for something: a trip to Paris in February, in my ongoing quest to make the City of Light an annual destination. I’m looking primarily at flats on the Rive Droite – the Right Bank – though I steer far away from the tony first arrondissement. I prefer the places that are farther out, a bit off the beaten track. I like those that are filled with the sounds of children going to school and neighbors greeting one another on the streets, rather than those marked by the voices of tourists consulting maps.
The process of choosing a place is a game that unfolds over time: do I want the cozy studio apartment in Bastille, the tiny house in Montmartre, the loft near Gambetta? Buttes-Chaumont holds a firm and unshakable place in my heart; should I choose an apartment that overlooks its trees, bare in the winter, or disregard that impulse and choose a spot closer to the canal?
(There must be a desk, so that I can write; ideally, I’d like it to look out the window, which should have the ironwork that is so distinctive to Paris. A few floors up would be ideal; I don’t care about an elevator, but if the bedroom could face a courtyard where birds might sing to me in the morning, I’d like that very much.)
The options feel endless, yet also so sensitive to time; the decision is not yet made, but what if the one I really want disappears before I have time to find it? It’s all right; there will always be another.
Somehow, I’ll decide on a world to take as my own for a week in February; somehow, I’ll decide how I want to be Parisian, for a moment, even if to everyone else, I’m exactly the American I’ve always been.