Ernest Hemingway wrote in his book, A Moveable Feast:
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young [wo]man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
Hemingway stayed in Paris in the 1920s when he was in his early 20's. Eighty years later, I also got the opportunity to live in Paris in my early 20's. Like Hemingway, the experiences in Paris has a profound and lasting impression on my life. I have since left Paris to move back to New York City - but Paris is indeed a moveable feast. It came in the form of bicycling in downtown Manhattan.
I learned to ride the bike for the first time in my life summer 2007 in Paris. This summer 2009 I participated in the Bike Around Downtown New York program. I am no longer a beginner (though still mastering those brakes and turns!) - but the enthusiasm of when I first learned to bike is still there, ever strong. Marie Pierre would be proud to know that her student has learned well and kept the passion going ... two years later, a whole ocean away.
Learning to ride the bicycle in Paris holds a lot of significance me. It is a city I love dearly, and though I no longer live there I still think of the city and the friends fondly. As I did on two wheels along the Seine River, passing by Notre Dame, Musée d'Orsay, Eiffel Tower ... I am elevated on two wheels and cycling from South Street Seaport, to Battery Park, a view of Statue of Liberty, up along the Hudson River. I lived in Paris for over five years and thought I know it well, but near the end of the journey I saw the city in a new way. On bicycle I also got a new perspective of New York, this city I have called home since 1985.
Good memories never pass, they linger in us. Great memories, get stronger with time. Living in Paris in my early 20s taught me a lot. It has inspired me to learn to see a place with a fresh new eye. In Paris I was young, a foreigner in a new land, life was full of romance, culture and arts. I am no longer in my 20s now, but I try not to let those precious life experiences escape me with age and time. I came back to New York - not with indifference - but with great curiosity, interest, a passion to discover and explore, as I did with Paris - it's as if I have fallen in love with New York all over again.