Not important, but essential

As I walked around Paris today, a thought came back to me that I’ve had many times about places I know and love well: Their reputation, their place in the world, as it were, is a separate thing from the specifics of their existence.

There are a million little details that come to define a city for you, once you spend any time there. Very few of these details would show up in the movie version. For example, the fact that you go one way on the 4 line to get to Porte d’Orleans, and the other way to get to Porte de Clignacourt. Or that when you walk south on Bd de Sebastopol, you arrive at the Fontaine du Palmier.

New York, Paris, London, Berlin, any city you can name, is full of such details of happenstance. These details add very little, if anything, to the mythic stature of a great city, but to anyone who lives there, they end up being the very soul of the place.

It’s such little details that make a place real. In the grand scheme of things, they may not be important, but if you live there, they are essential.

Leave a Reply