Just about a month away from leaving for Paris, my mind's swarmed with thoughts of the imminent rendezvous, the metaphorical equivalent of those iridescent butterflies navigating your stomach as you stand in front of the mirror moments before you present yourself for the first time to somebody you already desperately love, humanly aware of your own inadequacies.
I do not know what Paris looks like, except for perfunctory images gleaned through fleeting glimpses on the flashy ephemerality of the silver screen and accidental stumbles into Cartier-Bresson monochromes and outdated impressionist canvases. I certainly do not know anything about it the way a traveler would expect himself to know, or ought to know, at least by the standards of someone who's been dreaming of going there for for years now. But I know what it feels like, the soul of what it would mean to me to be there, that artless emotion of comparing notes on the reality of a lifelong dream. I can taste it just as I would a slice of watermelon or feel it as perceptibly as I would a swatch of velvet at my fingertips.
Paris to me, in the throes of my adolescence, was that dream where love was free, that island of memory where my alternate poetic reality existed without a fear of persecution, that beautiful damsel I could love without having to understand why. It was that city of utter abstraction, a city that despised walls to the extent that it expanded its windows into doors, a web of cobbled streets where love held sway over reason, unfettered, unburdened. In Paris, you just loved, there was nothing else to it. Growing up, you realise, of course, that love is always anything but that, that it is a box filled with a myriad webs of regrets, pleasures and nameless emotions and certainly not the isolated box of grandoisely sugary toffees that youth lures us into believing it is. As we age, the world silently teaches us how to love, shaping us through its insidious invocations of wisdom and pragmatism, but we all grow up inside our own heads before we grow up in the eyes of the world around us, and I guess I grew up in Paris.
My life's been a painfully relentless struggle between my abstraction and the world's reality and a long search for a love that would transcend the two and emancipate me from the same. I, of course, do not expect parisian reality to be any more forgiving than mine, nor do I expect love to be any easier there, but that is besides the point. Dreams can be more real than reality itself, if only we believed enough in them. For all the janus-faced absolutions of love, I'm still in love with it and forever will be, just as how it shall be with Paris, inside its reality, in spite of its reality.