Being on the move in Paris has a totally different feel than that of other larger cities. I've come to find that each city truly does have a personality all its own. Paris pulses with the clock like any other industrialized city in the world; the workers wake, go to work, take a lunch, and head home—but even this in Paris has a style and a flow to it. I believe it's a bit of a gift to straddle that line when traveling, to live a bit more normally and participate in the culture while still being an outside observer of life as it's lived. So many hidden gems and a feeling of understanding were to be found as we operated only partially as tourists. The other time was spent existing within the space provided.
It was impossible not to smile a proud and beaming grin as I walked past a fully restored replica of the famous "Herbie the Love Bug" (complete with California plates) parked on the street in the neighborhood of Clichy, as I strolled from the Metro to get a few groceries from the market. The Metro ride held something normally special each time I stepped on, but I only noticed because of not being lulled to sleep by the normality of the situation, but rather needing to be alert and stay safe in these surroundings new to me yet everyday occurrences to Parisiens. To quote Nick Carraway in 'The Great Gatsby,' "I was within, and without"—what a very interesting feeling. Our long walks to see nothing were as rewarding as our treks to see the big somethings. While wandering to and fro across the bridges leading to Cité we stumbled upon the Hotel de Ville of the 1st Arrondissement—this "county seat" structure so grand it would be regarded as a castle in America—and in front of it, a modest health & technology fair, like any you would see back home. Just around the corner was a KFC… that's right, the Colonel was smack in the middle of the oldest borough in Paris, but there was a slightly different menu so even going to a staple of American fast-food culture was still eating "French" food. Kinda blew our minds a bit because it's a bit of a paradox of travel to eat at an establishment from home but not really eat the food from home. These moments of normality were moving to me because it closed the gap, it gave persepctive—we are so vastly different in so many ways except those that really matter. Just people moving about the city, albeit one of the oldest and grandest in the world.
Of course there were sights to be seen and grand scenes to behold, but the most moving moments were those when Tonya and I would stop for coffee, grab lunch on a whim just walking by a place un-Yelp'ed about, or duck into a market for a couple of bottles of water. Because in those moments we were not on a grand vacation, we were just another couple living in Paris—so memorably, remarkably normal.