New York City received me like a rogue lover - we didn't see each other for a while, which made our rendez-vous even more intense. And, like any passionate amant, he's taxing me for the absence. Does that upset me? No, because he's right - I had deserted him. I'm back now, and more ready than ever for a committed relationship.
When you need a space to clean up the 'Be eS' from your life, come to NYC.
If you want to be seen exactly for who you are, and find out what vibe you are advertising, while getting an instant tough-love feedback, then come to NYC.
If you crave to express your personality without worrying that you may cause trouble, instead receiving such a unique, wordless love from the people that share the same wave-length with you, that's when you should come to NYC.
We are fascinated by the Eiffel tower, but may have no idea how much Paris we have right around the corner: Le Pain Quotidien, Prêt à Manger, Bryant Park (designed in the traditional French style), MacarOn Café, French Morning magazine are just a few (I am, of course, leaving a secret or two for my French immersion here with you).
What do Paris and NYC have in common, in my view?
The people let themselves seen and be affected. They inspire me to have an attitude - to make a statement through a choice of clothing, words and facial expression. They subtly draw me in to look and listen.
They create a voice, an attitude so original, it makes me think it's part of a survival mechanism. Otherwise why would they perfect it so?
If you blend in, you're spiritually dead, you label yourself as a victim. Only a prey blends in with the environment. Look at your shirt, coat, house, choice of words and hats (if any) - do they cry 'nice'? Then you are blending in. You may not want to be outrageous, but you may want to find your own golden balance, where personality meets subtlety (read 'personality' twice). Reach it, and it'll become the point of no return.
The people of Paris and New York will tell you what you advertise. Is it rude? I believe that it's the very core of what a friend should be. If you advertise old age - they'll tell you so. If you advertise insecurity, they'll let you know they see it. Don't be offended, if anything, be thankful. Just shift gears: as soon as you'll advertise what you want to be known as, they'll tell you, just to make you happy. They are a loyal mirror of your soul, and will keep you accountable for who you are. Don't try to put on a mask (it works in other cities), because they'll see through it and smile.
This soul gymnastics excites me so much, that I find it hard to not strike a conversation with each and every one of them. This may seem a little easier to do in NYC than in Paris, but do observe them, and you'll notice that your voice is not taken yet.
Paris has beauty in its buildings and mysterious romance in its people; NYC exhibits a rough visual display and its people show unabashedly their raw feelings. Paris is the subtle version of New York, or New York is an unapologetic version of Paris (with less kissing in public).
Can we have a mix of the best of both worlds?
A good friend of mine told me once that, if we don't find it, we should co-create it. But what if it already exists, and our eyes are not yet expecting such a perfect combo?
I'm on a quest to create a space that has the best of both worlds. Would you like to be part of it?
Having a perfect crème brulée at the trattoria around the corner from my apartment on the 20th, and a place called "Trois canards" on the other corner of the same block may be enough of a proof that Paris is everywhere in NYC, he's just playing hide-and-seek.
One more thing.
As a judgmental human being, I have a conditioned notion about what is considered to be ugly and beautiful, and I'm amazed how the NY attitude, as well as the Paris attitude, transcend all that. Actually, ugly translates into "no attitude", "no statement", stands for "nothing strong enough to be noticed". These two cities don't let you be ugly - you're in good hands!
How about your own city?
If you want to learn how to be in the moment, practice it in one of these cities, where everybody is part of the game. If you want to create the best version of yourself, don't hide in the comfort zone, come out and play - you will surprise yourself as if you'd witness someone else's adventure. Avoid having expectations - the reality will surpass your imagination.
Don't say that you are 'fine', and never try to be 'nice'. You won't get away with it, and soon you'll be called to tell the truth. Be authentic and make a statement, your statement, the one you were born to make.
And don't forget that the love is harder to receive than the hate - it demands you to give it right back, and, oh, là-là, is that ever scary! :)
You may find that your bad self comes out a bit - hold on to it, you may need it ;)
(Photo credit: parisvsnyc.blogspot.ca )