Solitude in the City

Six Parisiens in a café, drinking their afternoon coffee, alone.

They say that 20% of Parisiens engage in a non-utilitarian conversation more than once a month. Sure they say high to their neighbors, discuss work matters with colleagues, make plans with their families. But other than that, some can go weeks on end without really discussing matters of the heart.

The French culture values deeper relationships, but the inner circle is significantly smaller than their American counterparts. We say, “Radical individualism leads to extreme loneliness.” And this becomes evident when the bustle of the city prohibits seeing your friends as often as you would like. Even to the extent of shaping Parisien culture to accept solitude as the norm rather than the exception.

Nonetheless, we come in as Americans bending all the rules and our French neighbors open up to us, following our lead, tutoyering us immediately and thanking us for the refreshing opportunity to go deeper.

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