The fact that “Paris, j’taime” is a common saying should have been a better indicator to me that I would leave my heart in beautiful Paris.

I met Liah a few months before this at a swing dance event that I was coordinating and we talked briefly about my photography. When I went full time, I followed up with her about taking headshots, but she was in Paris and said “Well, I don’t actually know when I’m coming back, but…have you ever been to Paris?” I laughed it off, but the thought wouldn’t leave me, so Liah helped me figure out when plane tickets were cheap, found me a place to stay right in the heart of Paris, and I pushed the “Buy Tickets Now” button and in the words of the Avett Brothers, “I jumped over the sea.”

I originally wanted to find jobs while I was there, to “balance the trip out”, but the second I stepped onto the metro and saw the sun setting over the outskirts of the city, I knew it didn’t matter to me anymore. It’s easy to try to justify “crazy” adventure ideas, that it’ll be ok to go out on this limb as long as these 5 requirements are met, but sometimes you just have to jump.

There is art, music, detail, and beauty in every crevasse of this beautiful city. I can’t wait to go back, I can’t wait to be walking the streets, listening to the Jazz Manouche band that’s playing on the corner, eating bread that doesn’t make me sick, hugging my dear Liah who’s become the sweetest friend, sitting in caves under bars listening to people jam their souls out.

But until then I’ll have these pictures and my memories.

I wrote this poem while sitting along the Seine my last day.

“Sea gull over the Seine
Rest then re-enter the halfpipe
Between home and where you want to be
The waters are deep and the
Sunshine is leading
The way.”

beautiful paris image beautiful paris image beautiful paris image beautiful paris image beautiful paris image beautiful paris image beautiful paris image beautiful paris image beautiful paris image beautiful paris image In Paris, a common thing is to hold a “Jam.” It’s advertised by genre, “a blues jam”, “a funk jam”, and a bunch of musicians show up, go on stage at random, and play a song together. This was Liah’s first time jamming. She was incredible.

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This is Rhodri, the day after the Paris Attacks (which were about 5 days before I flew to Paris) he posted pictures from one of the sites in a Facebook photography group I’m part of. I messaged him about meeting up while I was there to take pictures, and we didn’t have a lot of time, because he was getting on a train to Switzerland at noon, but after much running through the city, getting off at the wrong metro station, reading the map wrong, Liah and I met him and his friend David at a little cafe before taking Rhodri to his train. The little ways that we get to connect with people in this life astound me. You can see Rhodri’s work and follow his world travels here: Shuffle Photo.

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beautiful paris image beautiful paris image beautiful paris image beautiful paris image beautiful paris image beautiful paris image beautiful paris image beautiful paris image paris blog-34 paris blog-35 paris blog-36 paris blog-37 paris blog-38 paris blog-39 paris blog-40 paris blog-41 paris blog-42 paris blog-43 paris blog-44 paris blog-45 paris blog-46 paris blog-47 paris blog-48 paris blog-49 paris blog-50 paris blog-51

“My funniest story was you.”

paris blog-53 paris blog-54 paris blog-55 paris blog-56 paris blog-57 paris blog-58 paris blog-59 paris blog-60 paris blog-61 paris blog-62 paris blog-63 paris blog-64 paris blog-65 paris blog-66 This band is called Tales, and they’re incredible. Check them out on Facebook here: Tales the Band

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We saw this band, WASH, in a bar the first night that it was open after the attacks. If there was anything I learned about the Parisians, it is that while they felt the weight, they are determined to live life, to push through tragedy, and to celebrate love and being together at any cost. So, yes, I am in love with the people as well as the city.

paris blog-69 paris blog-70 paris blog-71 paris blog-72 paris blog-73 paris blog-74 This is a Syrian Refugee family sleeping on the street. It’s one thing to talk about politics, about borders and rights, but regardless of your stances on any of these, this is what it looks like.

paris blog-75We got back to the apartment late one night, and one of Liah’s friends, Victor, had crashed where we were supposed to sleep. We didn’t care and just moved for the night, but the next morning he felt bad, so he made us breakfast. Victor and her brother are in a band together, and they played for us for an hour or so while the light from the Paris skies poured in. You can listen to them here.  I’ve had it on repeat.

paris blog-76 paris blog-77 paris blog-78 paris blog-80 paris blog-81 paris blog-82 paris blog-83 paris blog-84 paris blog-85 paris blog-86 paris blog-87 paris blog-88 paris blog-89 paris blog-90 paris blog-91 paris blog-92 paris blog-93 paris blog-95 paris blog-96 I don’t know this woman, but I love her for stopping where she stopped.

paris blog-97 paris blog-98 paris blog-99 paris blog-100 paris blog-101 paris blog-102 paris blog-103 We went into this vintage shop so Liah could find a dress for dancing that night, and this man was so grouchy that we had come into his shop, but grouchy in a picture perfect way.

paris blog-104 paris blog-105 paris blog-106 paris blog-107 paris blog-108 This place is called Caveau de la Huchette, and had one of the best live Jazz bands I’ve ever heard. My friend Richy happened to be in Paris at the same time, so he met us here. The band began a song, no one was dancing, so Richy asked me to, and we were the only ones on the floor. We went all out, hit every break, our moves were so big and everyone there was cheering and clapping. It was an incredible feeling.

paris blog-109 paris blog-110 paris blog-111 paris blog-112 paris blog-113 paris blog-114 paris blog-115 paris blog-116 paris blog-117 “Voguing”

paris blog-118 paris blog-119 paris blog-120 paris blog-121 paris blog-122 paris blog-123 This is the view from Liah’s uncle’s apartment, he took us to a tiny cafe in his neighborhood for some authentic French food. It was the best food I’ve ever had. Every bite was like the 5-course-meal gum from Willy Wonka. So much flavor intensity and variety. We sat there laughing, exclaiming over every bite, enjoying being together for several hours. I dream about that meal.

paris blog-124 paris blog-125 paris blog-126 On this afternoon, Liah and I were so exhausted (staying out until 2/4 am every night will do that to you apparently), so we went to her brother’s house to rest for a couple hours. Theo was downstairs writing a song, I napped to that sound, we got ready for the night together and as we headed back out we were both so full of excitement, we couldn’t handle it. High on life would be a good descriptor. Every couple of minutes we were yelling (not too loudly, but still) “I LOVE EVERYTHING!” “EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL!” “EVERYONE IS SO CUTE!”

Liah was buttoning up her coat in the metro station, and on impulse I snapped a picture. This is the result and it’s one of my favorites from the whole trip.

paris blog-127 paris blog-128 paris blog-129 paris blog-130 We went to a blues dance exchange, Blues in Paris, where I had some of the best dances of my entire life. Liah’s friend Julien (who was my friend at this point in the trip too) brought home-made apple juice and apple pastries, and at 2 am when I was starting fade from the exhaustion, we went to the adjoining room, sat on the floor, drank apple juice and ate pastries until we felt like we could dance again. Then we danced for 2 more blog-131 paris blog-132 paris blog-133 paris blog-134 paris blog-135 paris blog-136 paris blog-137 paris blog-138 paris blog-139 paris blog-140 paris blog-141 paris blog-142 paris blog-143 paris blog-144 paris blog-145 paris blog-146 This is a cafe where Django Reinhardt played often. Richy is an incredible musician, and mentioned he wanted to go to a jam here. When we arrived, he had been there for a while and was intimidated, but Liah arranged for him to go up and he was WONDERFUL.

paris blog-147 paris blog-148 paris blog-149 paris blog-150 paris blog-151 paris blog-152 paris blog-153 paris blog-154 paris blog-155 paris blog-156 paris blog-157 paris blog-158 paris blog-159 paris blog-160 paris blog-161 paris blog-162 paris blog-163 paris blog-164 After the Eiffel Tower, we planned to go dancing again somewhere, but we had walked 5 miles in the cold, and were exhausted, so we got on the metro to head back to our apartment, and Richy pulled his guitar out. We walked the streets of Paris, singing old folk songs, jazz songs, whatever came to mind. People danced with us and when we sat at this cafe to have a glass of wine, the people next to us sang with us for hours and talked about how much it meant that we were celebrating life this way.

paris blog-165 paris blog-166 paris blog-167 paris blog-168 paris blog-169 This sandwich was important to document. It was only 4 euro, and it had salmon and cream cheese and arugula, which are my favorite things in combination. I sat on the wall over the seine to eat it and watched the tourists and the seagulls.

paris blog-170 paris blog-171 paris blog-172 paris blog-173 paris blog-174 paris blog-175 paris blog-176 paris blog-177 paris blog-178 paris blog-179 paris blog-180 paris blog-181 paris blog-182 paris blog-183 paris blog-184 paris blog-185 paris blog-186 paris blog-187 paris blog-188 paris blog-189 paris blog-190 paris blog-191 paris blog-192 paris blog-193 One thing I wanted to do on my trip was see the sunset. We’d been busy the whole time and missed it every evening. However, on this, my last night in Paris, I randomly decided to go to the Centre Pompidou, took my time getting there, and as I rode the escalator up to the top of the building–as you must do to properly enter the museum–the sun set right before me, dipping into the perfect view. I couldn’t have arranged it better if I’d blog-194 paris blog-195 paris blog-196 paris blog-197 paris blog-198 Wilfredo Lam‘s work is fascinating.

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We went to a Lindy Hop event right around the corner from the Bataclan, the site of the concert shootings. When the event ended we walked by the memorial that has come together across the street. The beauty and the weight are heavy, the lives lost will never be forgotten, but to come together for love in the midst of sorrow is an equally heavy thing.

My heart aches with you, Paris, but I love with you too, and hope for the days to come.

paris blog-211 paris blog-212 paris blog-213 paris blog-214 paris blog-215 paris blog-216 paris blog-217 paris blog-218 paris blog-219 paris blog-220 paris blog-221 paris blog-222“It doesn’t even hurt. Paris is standing.”