31 Days

En route to Montparnasse (Photo by Rachel Young CC by 4.0) 

31 Days 

By Rachel Young, FIU Honors College
July 2016

Start – Montparnasse Bienvenüe 
End – Abbesses (Butte Montmartre)

31 days to scour every inch of this city
31 days to ride every metro line 
31 days to delve into thousands of years worth of history 
31 days is all
31 days, it’s fine 

But will it be enough? 
Will it be enough for me to find myself or even begin to?
Will it be enough for me to realize life is our greatest gift but still so rough? 

31 days 
31 days to feel feelings I’ve never felt before
31 days to sympathize and feel reborn 
31 days to fall in love with timeless art
31 days and in Paris I’ve left my heart

Fluorescent lights and chipped blue tile
It’s not until my 30th day I realize finding beauty in everything is so vital 
The rush of the damp underground air
The mother combing her daughter’s unruly hair

31 days to climb every step
31 days, not one overslept
31 days, 29 stops
31 days, not even close to being enough 

I find comfort in my metro seat
I find comfort in the 18th 
For that I take two lines from home 
And find myself in Abbesses 

With just a swipe of my Navigo 
I ascend from the steps of Montmartre to the steps of the Sacre Coeur 
Where did the time go? 

From sex shops to Moulin Rouge 
To Piaf’s early stages 
Pigalle sets the bar high 
I feel the need to remember all faces 
I feel I need more time

Place de la Concorde, you’ve seen Paris grow up
From the French Revolution to the various Tour de France revolutions, you’ve had the front seat
Standing tall next to the Tuileries, in awe of your grandeur I’m trumped

31 days to relate to a tragedy, a lifetime to carry out a heavy responsibility
31 days to cross every ‘pont’
31 days and Rue du Bac leads me to a shop full of taxidermy 
31 days, hey there’s that metro font!

31 days, metro closes in 5
31 days we’ve reached Rennes 
31 days, this stop is barely alive
31 days this city I’ll always defend

Montparnasse we meet again 
Bienvenüe would have loved the gem you’ve become 
Your seemingly endless tunnel brings me comfort 
The lavender rooted in the gardens of the Jean Moulin museum, I’m home

31 days, how long has it been?
31 days I feel at home
31 days so much accomplished since
31 days, worth all the miles flown

31 days I once had
31 days have gone
31 days and we’re already preparing to land
31 days, Paris I’ll always call you home

IMG_8882.JPG
Gare Montparnasse’s never-ending walkway (Photo by Rachel Young CC by 4.0)

Reflection
I owe my experience in Paris to the metro. Without my Navigo card and my pocket map, I don’t know what I would have seen or how I would have felt. The metro makes moving around the city so easy it’s almost a crime not to take advantage of it. What I’m going to miss the most of Paris is the metro and the emotional ties I have to it. Back in the spring semester, my group and I chose Line 12 and I can say it’s easily my favorite metro line. The connection I’ve developed with the various stops and even the metro cars themselves is something I cannot put into words. The moment I realized I was in Paris and the various existential crises I had throughout the trip took place on this metro line. My relationship and my connections with this city will stay with me throughout my lifetime and a lot of those connections I owe to this line. The facility that the metro gave me to explore the deep crevices of Paris and to delve further into the history and culture that France holds is something I will value forever. Merci beaucoup et à bientôt, ligne 12.

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