City of lights, city of love - Paris has always been one of my favorite travel destination. Stroll along the Seine, sit and sip an apéro at a café, people watch, have a baguette with brie on the Pont-des-Arts bridge, discover little nooks and streets... It's a hustle and bustle cosmopolite city, full of tourists, busy people, pollution and yet it's full of art, history, architecture, gardens and parks and so much more to take in. It's a conflicted city. A place that has helped me gather my thoughts, find myself again when I felt lost and give me hope.
My little sister lives and works in Paris. Her Paris experience is slightly different. While my relationship to the City of Lights has always been short-lived, like a summer fling, she is in it hard, committed and for lack of a better word stuck. Appearances can be deceiving and what looks like a picture perfect from the outside, often hides dark secrets. Just like not everything that seems hopeless really ends up to be. Case in point: I live in a corrupted Third World country, ruled by a medieval Catholic Church, with one of the highest population densities on this planet, short-term urban planning, lack of environmental awareness and the list goes on and on and on.... and yet, I am happy here. It helps that I have a wonderful husband, but moreover I have learned over the past 5 years of living away from the town I grew up in and called home, to focus on the good things. I spent years accepting Manila as my new home, often crying myself into sleep, wanting why I didn't have here. Today, I appreciate it for what it is. The good, the bad, the ugly. Just like in a love relationship, the relationship with your city is something that you need to work on. Every day. So this if for my little sister: when the going gets rough, look at Paris through my eyes and focus on the beautiful side of it: