New York Nights and Paris Mornings...a Retrospective

Late night flower run in Paris?
My friend Helen and I used to walk down St. Mark’s Place in New York late at night.  We’d talk about nothing and anything and she had a tendency to get rather philosophical, which is one of a million reasons why I like her.

The bodegas in the East Village were always lit up, hocking their cigarettes and Ben and Jerry’s to a mixed lot of late night crowds.  The colors of the bright spectrum of flower bouquets were always clearly visible behind the plastic drapes surrounding the store front.  On St. Mark’s, the tattoo parlors proudly displayed their fresh and bruised body art on clients by hanging Polaroid photos in their windows taken just minutes post tattooing.  Is it supposed to be that red? I always asked myself.

Helen once remarked that she loved New York because, in her estimate, only in this city could you get fresh flowers and a piercing at any time of night.  And she was right.  It was an observation that stuck with me and a reality that I sometimes long for here in Paris.  New York was full of vitality and electricity that never died at night.  Hungry mouths could always be fed and you never felt alone on the streets. 

Corrinne Bailey Rae’s song “Paris Nights and New York Mornings” always confused me because people generally like it the other way around.  New York nights are what many New Yorkers live for.  It’s a city where 24/7 means 24/7, not closed from 2-7AM

Paris has flowers aplenty.  For 3 euros I picked up some daffodils just because I could.  Cheap.  Fresh.  Beautiful.  Walking through the city with a little taste of spring on a sunny Paris afternoon in March is still an experience, though entirely lacking in the dynamism of New York’s pulsating nightlife.  Paris doesn’t pulse at night.  Paris sleeps.

At 3AM the other night, I walked home with my friend Fiona on one of those long evening walks, the kind that so inspired Helen in New York.  But Paris was different.  Walking from Montmartre to République, there were no shops to be seen.  No piercings to be had.  And no glimmering lights to catch our eyes.  Instead, there was just Paris and us.  Our playground.  Our stage. 

Sometimes you have to create your own dynamism at night in order to get to the fresh coffee and warm pastries of a bright dawning Paris morning that make the sleepy nights worth it.  So was it obnoxious to take our an I-pod and have a sing-along in the middle of the street?  Probably, but there was no one there to stop us.  That evening we were the only two Parisians in the city, a feeling that so few New Yorkers could ever experience.