Remembrance of Things Past

In contemplation, Life, Life,, Time Travelling, Travel, Urban Exploration
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“Oh, no,” I said, “no city is more beautiful than Paris-”
Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

In the 1960s, my mother lived in Paris for a while, and as a teenager I dreamed of doing the same. Life and medical school delayed that dream, but earlier this year, I finally got round to it. We rented an apartment in Paris for eight days. Unlike on previous visits, where we’d just stayed for a night or two, I was able to fully experience the city that has always captivated my imagination.

Paris, the City of Light, owes much of its charm to Haussmann’s nineteenth-century renovations, which brought light and air to its crowded centre. (The idea was actually to make it harder for protesters to build barricades.) This redesign has since been preserved through strict building regulations, giving the city a timeless feel.

We arrived just as spring was blooming and the city was preparing for the 2024 Olympics. The March sun lit up the boulevards filling them with light and shadows. While Tom worked from our rooftop apartment, I explored the city, taking pictures, visiting museums, and collecting cheese and wine for our lunches. I had previously visited Paris with my mother and she had shown me where she lived, but this trip was different because I exploring the city by myself. As I wandered, I often thought of her on these same streets years ago, and felt I was walking in her footsteps.

I often found myself lost in the past while walking in the present, making new memories while cherishing the old.

Recently, I discovered that my aunt, my mother’s sister, had also lived in Paris at the same time as my mother. She lived with a fervour and passion that was inspiring, and her recent passing has given me a new lens through which to look at my photographs. As I reflect on my images of Paris, I can’t help but wonder which streets she too wandered.

My mother (left) and Auntie Jacquith in Paris

Paris remains a place where past and present intersect, offering a sense of continuity and connection. My time there was not just about exploring a city but also about honouring the memories of those who came before me and adding my own experiences. As I walked through Paris, I felt the presence of remembrances past, combining with the city’s enduring charm.


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