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The Downside of Paris

June 10th, 2017

Well, no, there isn’t any downside to Paris. But there have been moments which were less wonderful than the other moments.

As you walk through Paris, for example, you can take a deep breath of lovely, light air perfumed with fruit and flowers. Then you expel that breath and take in another lungful — only to discover that this new air is full of garbage and cigarette smoke.

The air is very unreliable.

Also, both #2 daughter and I have encountered phobic experiences. For her, it was an exhibit of undersea creatures.

I have attempted to step onto two bridges and have been unable to proceed. There was also a walkway in a museum which I traversed in a state of terror, though I was able to cross it.

Of course, I’ve happily crossed dozens of other bridges and walked along myriad walkways. We’re doing 12,000 or so steps a day and I’ve had trouble with just these few.

I suffer from a mild case of agoraphobia. It can happen that I suddenly find myself in a situation — basically a visual setting — that feels unstable. It feels as though the ordinary laws of physics don’t apply or something. I don’t have any logical reason to be fearful, but I’m absolutely terrified.

It’s stupid, and often unpredictable, and always a possibility when I travel.

Another thing that creeps me out is the heavily armed paramilitary-looking police that we see hither and yon. French police are intimidating enough under normal circumstances.

A group of normal police came up to #2 daughter and one spoke to her in a firm, manly voice. We didn’t understand him, so he said, “Do you speak English?” — the most frequent phrase we’ve heard so far — and then told her not to put her phone in her back pockets. “There are a lot of pickpockets,” he intoned.

I felt more cared-for and less scared of them at that point, but it’s still scary to be in a city that needs that level of security.

Finally, if you stay a bit late at a museum and try to get lunch after 2:30, you will find that it can’t be done. People are not supposed to eat at odd times. You will have missed lunch and no one will give you dinner till 6:00, so you might as well give up.

Finally, I find myself walking around feeling that people who are fortunate enough to live in one of the most glorious cities in the world should resist the temptation to deface the buildings and the streets with graffiti and trash.

I would probably feel that way in a lot of U.S. cities, too, I suppose.

Anyway, those are the negative feelings I’ve had so far in Paris.

Sore feet, too. Does that count as a negative emotion? Probably not.

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