c'est plus fort que moi
Teenagers are sprawled out everywhere. One young man sits up on a street light and gives the middle finger to those underneath him. Dozens are perched high up on the statue that sits in the centre of the square, swaying to the music with cigarettes in hand.
Smoke hovers over the crowds as a singer screams in French. They cheer. It’s Sunday afternoon, the sun is shining, and this apparently, is the place to be.
A selection of artists have been chosen to perform in a large concert against racism and immigrants being thrown out of France, and there's no way any of these kids are going to pass off a free concert and an excuse to yell about Sarkozy.
I fight through the crowds, pass the t-shirt stands and find my friends bobbing their heads amongst an array of dreadlocks and rebellious hairstyles.
Eventually I let go and move to the music. Artists take the stage, one after another, in the name of equality. Some sing about what it’s like to arrive as an immigrant in Paris and to be chased by the police. Some scream poetry. Some rap. Some mix their mother tongue with French. One group mixes traditional Arabic music with hip hop, and blow me away. They all speak out about coming to Paris for a better life and finding discrimination instead.
Since I’ve come here I’ve seen racism as much as I’ve seen the Eiffel tower. People slip racist comments regarding blacks and Arabs as if they were talking about the weather.
All of it disappears in the music. The sun beats down on the crowd, bottles and joints are passed around, and bodies move to the beat.
This weekend my surroundings have been illuminated by the spring sunshine.
Everything around me has been shining so brightly that I can't seem to worry about anything.
I’ve been going out as if it were a sin to stay in, the warm air calling my name ever so sweetly.
Saturday night involved beautiful strangers, good conversation, wine, a budding friendship, a flustered waiter and a salad packed with pungent cheese.
Sunday was music in the open air. Blue skies. A friend waiting for me outside Hotel de Ville. The busy streets of the Marais. Cocktails and more good conversation.
I'm stunned by the beauty of my surroundings. Tonight, when a small Asian man sang down in the metro, I dropped coins into his case with tears in my eyes.
It’s stronger than I am. The people, the weather, the sights, the sounds, the feeling inside of me.
I’ve stepped outside of myself and into Paris.