After watching “Midnight in Paris” again, I was brought back to my strolls in different cities by Owen Wilson’s adventure in late night Paris.
Long walks in a city have always been one of my favourite activities to do alone, or with really good company. Don’t know if it holds true for you too. I’ve met people who complain about walking too much and sore legs after one hour walking.
But I can joyfully accept a 5 hour long walk with a good conversationist in a beautiful city, as long as I’m not in heels.
The beauty lies in the simple but dynamic form: when I’m alone, I observe the street, its people. I listen, I smell, I feel the vibe. If I’m with someone I enjoy the company with, I can enjoy both the conversation as well as the scenery around us.
In the movie, Wilson’s character, Gil, take long walks in the street of Paris alone and with “a girl of his dreams”, literally, since she’s living in Paris and the 1920s. Both are the most Romantic symbols for Gil that are unattainable and nostalgic.
Wilson’s character wonders alone in Paris. In the sunshine and in the rain. I wouldn’t go so far to say “that’s the dream”, but being able to walk slowly around in a magnificent city as Paris. That must be a blessing.
One thing is subtle but significant: Gil (Owen Wilson) doesn’t walk in Paris because he lives there. He’s not walking in his world, but in a place that serves as the stage of his imagined “Golden Age”. That’s why Paris is magical for him.
Paris, just as the 1920s, for Gil is something he holds as the ideal world he’d like to live in. But until the moment when he starts to feel attracted to a Parisian girl from his own time, Paris is not his world.
Same goes for his walks in the city. He has been an outsider watching, and mostly, imagining what has happened there. The city doesn’t belong to him. And he doesn’t belong to it.
He wants to “move there”. To be part of it.
But what he has to learn is that, moving to Paris could only be as fulfilling as he would think when he accepted his reality and started to appreciate the messiness and the precious beauties in this home world.
That’s the thing. When I’m alone, walking down the street, and the next, and the next, I’m spending half the time watching other people, dogs, and buildings; the other half time, I’m spending with my own thoughts.
Not everyone can do these long walks. Now I can also hardly find the patience for it.
I didn’t want to say “time”. Because we all have time. It’s just the mindset and perception of time changed.
But, what a shame.
If I can just spend a day somewhere in a beautiful city by myself, in the streets, that’d be not only wonderful, but I’d really be proud of my own strong and clear mind.
Because no fear for time is the greatest martial art for the mind.
Another thing about long walks that I really love, is to walk and talk with a really good friend.
I used to do that a lot with some friends back home where I grew up.
We met up somewhere, and started talking, and then walking.
No destination. No restaurant. No bars.
Just a friend and I, in the street of a busy city.
We passed by street food stands. We ate, and then kept walking.
We walked for hours, hardly touched our cellphones.
Anything we saw along the way could potentially spark up a new topic or a sequel of what we just went over.
We laughed hard, crazy.
We laughed so much that we had to crouch down, didn’t care what other people were thinking.
Today’s me would have hated us back then. So careless and loud.
So rogue and not give a damn.
What I can’t forget is that, while feeling so free, I was feeling very safe as well. Not like it’s dangerous to walk with one person in the city (at night, maybe), but the sense of “security”, the feeling of “certain” and “sure” of yourself and everything in your life…
Because the person you can talk these long walks with must be very special.
You talk for hours but it’s not just about you nor only about her/him, but both of you.
I’m sure you know this feeling: when someone talks to you for hours and they are only talking about themselves. And then it’s your turn. But later they start to “reply” to what you said, and immediately go back to themselves again? (I’m not saying you are innocent in this. I bet you are just like me, sometimes talk about yourself the whole time too.)
Well, what can I say? They are just not the people you can take long, and enjoyable walks in Paris with.
But I hope you have at least one person in your life that you can do this with.
With someone you feel loved and supported, and you will love and support her/him with all your heart.
Don’t ask me “how will I know if this person is the one or not”. Ask yourself. If it’s right, you know. And then you go and ask him/her:
“Would you put on some walking shoes and stroll in the city with me?
Make sure take a bottle of water. And we will stop for ice cream.”