It is unfair to compare any city to Paris. This is not necessarily because Paris is the best city in the world (I’m not sure it is), but rather because Paris was not built in order to be compared to New York, or to London, or to San Francisco. It was built to be a metropolis all of its own, and I think that goal has been thoroughly achieved. And yet… it is human nature to compare things. When I go to a restaurant for breakfast, I compare their pancakes to my dad’s; when I bake a batch of chocolate crinkles, I compare them to my mom’s; when I try on a pair of jeans, I compare them to the favorite pair I already own; when I hop on the train in Berkeley, I compare it to the New York subway. I could go on and on, but you probably get the point.
That point being: it is unfair to compare Paris to other cities, but it is impossible not to. For the past month or so, I have been feeling incredibly guilty about wishing I were in the Bay Area or in New York—after all, I’ve had Paris at my fingertips, and nothing (except for my stupid brain) to stop me from taking full advantage of that. So after a month (arguably, an entire semester) of battling with myself, trying to choose on any given day whether to go visit some landmark/museum/restaurant or to laze around my apartment pining for a change of scenery, I made an important realization. It finally registered that the problem was not a lack of love for Paris; instead, I simply discovered that I love Berkeley and New York more than I had realized.
Perhaps I fall in love with cities easily—I have great affection for places I have never even lived, including but not limited to Chicago, Portland, London. There are somewhat buried places in my heart for the Twin Cities, and for Maryland, where I lived only in the years before my fifth birthday. This is why I refuse to feel guilty or ungrateful for being ready to leave this City of Light.
Paris has not let me down, nor have I let myself down while in Paris. This timeless metropolis is at least as beautiful as I remember, and even more beautiful than I expected. I have squeezed as much out of this journey as I wished to—yes, there are many pairs of shoes I wish I’d bought, many cheeses I wish I’d tasted, many stained glass windows I wish I’d seen. But I have no doubt that I will be back to visit, and those items will still be on my to-do list. More importantly, when I do return, it will not be merely as a girl (like so many others) in love with the most romantic city in the world, but as a girl in love with yet another home away from home.