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Why Do You Fall In Love With A Place?

Buzz Poole
02/14/2012 - 00:00

Writing for World Hum, Jeffrey Tayler describes a new appreciation for Paris thanks to reading Proust, a summer sunset and a half carafe of Côtes du Rhône. Tayler started visiting the City of Lights in 1983, and since then has returned too many times to count, sometimes staying for a few days, sometimes staying for weeks. During a recent visit, in his eyes, the city no longer glinted its romantic luster. The urban strife of cultural and economic divisions reflected back at him in the dirty streets and rundown neighborhoods, “recalling the seedy parts of big cities everywhere.” He goes on to write: “The Paris I continued to love belonged to Maupassant and Baudelaire, Balzac and Zola, and existed on the page alone.”

While it’s hard to feel bad for Tayler’s predicament, it does raise interesting questions about how we come to think of a place and how those thoughts change over time. Paris is a go-to example of a city that attracts visitors for its historic and cultural allure. But any location in the world has the ability to strike a chord with a person, whether it’s a result of an amazing meal, remarkable natural setting or spending time with those you cherish.

But just the same as our memories rarely capture the past exactly as it happened, our feelings for these places might very well change over multiple visits. The house special might start to taste bland after you’ve eaten it ten times; that majestic hike that made you feel like the only person on the planet might not be so awe inspiring in a sudden downpour. Or, the more we get to know a place the more our thoughts of it align with its realities.

As Tayler lets the wine and Proust overtake him, he surrenders himself to the moment and in doing so rediscovers the magic of Paris: “The sky was transmuting: a rather cheery, if common, summery azure vault laced with cirrus was metamorphosing into a melancholy tableau of oyster-shell clouds set against luminescent, rosée-tinted sand, an inverted seascape in the heavens calling to mind long walks at dusk along lonely beaches, probably with a loved one’s hand clasped in one’s own. Just the sky, a soft northern sky, to pluck thoughts from.”

What are your experiences of falling in and out of love with places?

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