Betty Diaries: Postcard from Paris. In Paris. |

Betty Diaries: Postcard from Paris. In Paris.

Kate Sonnick

I am eating a gluten-free baguette. In Paris.

But there are worse things than being gluten-sensitive in Paris. You could also have a stomach flu. In Paris.

This was the thought that ran through my brain last week while I recovered from said stomach flu while lying flat on my back in my flat in the 7th arrondisement. There is no situation that can’t be slightly improved by simply adding these two words: In Paris.

I was pickpocketed on the Metro. In Paris. I got locked out of my apartment. In Paris. My dog peed on some peonies and the mean flower shop lady yelled at me. In Paris.

Before I moved to Park City in 2020, for about five years, I was trying to live in the City of Love. I say “trying” because actually living full-time in this place isn’t easy — even if you have a job working for a French company, which I did. And even if you have a French lawyer, which I also eventually did. In fact, it took months of untangling bureaucratic red tape with the French consulate in New York. In the end, I managed to score a visa de long sejours, or long-stay visa.

By that time, I’d been living here every spring and fall for three months at a time. I was on my own. I was a freelance writer. I could work from anywhere. Pourquoi pas Paris? I remember telling someone I was planning to come to Paris alone for the first time back in 2015. She rolled her eyes and said, “Well, good luck making friends there. Parisian women are witches.” Only she used a slightly less flattering word than  “witches.”

I proved her wrong when I joined a Crossfit gym near Place de l’Opera. In one of my first workouts, I was teamed up with a French woman who spoke perfect English. Delphine became my very first real Frenchy friend, and we are still like sisters to this day. In fact, my friendship with her was the key that unlocked so many of the mysteries of living in Paris. I met a great group of friends. Found a hairdresser. Even got a French bank account.

When the long-stay visa finally came through, I was ready to make my French fantasy come true. It was the year before the pandemic. I had a lovely apartment in South Pigalle. I wrote advertising copy for Tupperware France. I no longer cared what the mean flower shop lady thought of my dog.

Toward the end of that first full year living here, I met with the French lawyer again. She said she could probably help me get one more year, at most, on my visa de long sejours. After that, she said, “Eet will be très compliqué.” I already knew in my heart, as much as I love Paris, it was not my home. Truth be told, I missed my other love: skiing. Oh sure, I’d skied Chamonix and it was awesome. But it was also not exactly near Paris.

The experience of being in Paris has always shined a light on where I need to go in my life. And in that moment in 2019, I knew the next place would be a ski town. The following year, I sold all my stuff in New York, packed up my VW Sportwagon with my dog, my skis and my bikes and drove across country to Park City. And while I’ve never looked back, I can never stay away from my beloved Paris for long.

Coming back to visit this spring, I feel a strange connection to my life in the American West. That feeling that I am part of something much bigger than myself. In Utah, I feel it in the vastness of the landscape. In the open expanse of clear blue sky. The constant push and pull of nature. Of time. Of change.

Here, I feel it passing by Notre Dame, blackened with mold, imposing, impossible. The soft lapping of waves on the Seine as I wander along the quai at night. I listen to the ground crunching under my feet as I make my way through the Tuileries. It’s no different than the dirt back home on the trails. Born from rock over centuries. Layers of life’s detritus. Decay, roots, leaves, dead bugs, cigarette butts. I am me. I am no one. I am everyone. We are all the same.

I sit down on a small ledge at the secret dog park behind the Louvre where a bunch of French people let their dogs run off leash. A little Jack Russell runs up to sniff me and pees on top of my sneaker. In Paris.


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