This is my Paris bike. (I know--I didn't tell you...I have a bike.) When I ride it here, there is no helmet involved.
This is a piece of cheese. It is from the local outdoor food market. It is unpasteurized. Also, it is delicious.
These are eggs at the grocery store. They are displayed on a shelf and are not refrigerated. (Neither is the milk.) Both are currently in my apartment fridge.
Every day, around every corner, Paris does anything it can to assault my safety-focused American upbringing. It shakes me up, challenges me, and secretly thrills me. Put simply, there is a looseness here that isn't in the States. It's a pffffft attitude--a sort of recklessness (for lack of a better word) Americans don't naturally have.
The first time I noticed it was on the metro. [And I know it wasn't just me, because at least two other American friends visiting me commented on this, too.] On some of the older subway trains, the doors have to be manually opened via a pull handle if you want to exit. With a casual flick-click, Parisians boldly open them and hop off before the train comes to a complete stop in the station. (I know! Clutching the pearls here, too!)
You see this characteristic above ground as well. Drivers of cars, of buses, of anything, don't seem as uptight as we are. People ride around on bikes and skateboards and scooters without helmets. At the grocer, eggs and milk sit on shelves, not in refrigerated sections. And in my stomach, unpasteurized cheeses and butters made with raw milk have moved in and set up camp like they never could have in the USA.
Now, I don't mean to imply that Paris is some sort of free-for-all danger pit. Obviously not--no no. I liken it more to a proper young lady who has a wild streak that comes out in subtle ways--whether it's in a dizzying waft of her perfume, the way she purposefully wears a dress that's slightly too clingy, or the way you know, beyond all doubt, that she will totally pickpocket your wallet one evening when you bend down to give her a long, slow kiss goodnight.
It's seductive, experiencing a daily life that is less "safe" (because, really, let's do remember to put that word in quotes). It's turned out to be just another way Paris titillates and fascinates me. It adds to the romance. It makes me want to linger. And it makes me want more.
The Paris Plan - Achieved Today: Rules #2, 8, and 14.