In and Out

In The Art of Travel Fall 2017, 8. Bubble, Paris by Howard1 Comment

This is a jazz bar my friends and I always go on every Friday night. I cannot recall the name of it, but it is near Notre Dame, close to Shakespeare bookstore, a place where one can easily find on trip advisor, and there are always people taking pictures under its plague.

It has the most overpriced drinks in it; The bouncer was strangely nice. The bartenders are all young and handsome; the jazz saxophonist is from Chicago, signing an autograph while murmuring “This pen don’t work”; every time someone sneezes, there will be people turning their heads and casually say “bless you”. Now you might get the sense of this jazz bar. It is full of tourists and French bartenders. It is the bubble we call.

Every time I step into this bar, I only talk in English. I feel like I’m once again in New York, except they don’t make “Manhattan” here. This place makes me feel a sense of nostalgia: like I’m still hanging out on a Friday night with all my friends in New York; we are still worried about little things; we are still drinking to the jazz music, and we dance to it. All of these scenes in front of me seem so familiar, and I even have the urge to walk on the Broadway street 3 am in the morning. Yet, as I step out of the bar, I realize everything inside is just a bubble.

This bar is a comfort zone for me. Just like every bar serves to be: I walk in it not that I love it that much, but only to have fun. I never like bars, but this one is a place where I feel safe. I won’t be stuck in a French conversation to think of the right words to use; I can be as loud as I want; I can be inside a crowd of people dancing without feeling embarrassed since no one here really knows how to dance. The door is like a boundary between familiarity and adventure. Outside the door everything is waiting for me to explore, to stumble and fall, to laugh about, to be sad with, and to get along. I think I know well enough about the world outside, yet I actually don’t. I’ve been to the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, the Eiffel tower, and even lost in the streets. But Paris is much more than that. It is also the rush hours on the metro; it is the cheers in the stadium of France; it is “Bonjour” in different accents; it is the aloofness shown on people’s faces.

When I stay inside, I feel unreal. Unreal because this place is seemingly secluded from the reality I have to face outside. This is the place where I only have fun, and nothing else. Sometimes this kind of bubble is important, since we all have fear of stepping out of the comfort zone and facing all the goods along with the bads. But the problem is, one cannot always be inside the bubble. No matter how fearful the outside might sound to oneself, the reward of conquering that fear would be worthy. This is like last Friday when I walk out of that bar, in a state mostly sober, it started to rain. I hated the gloomy rain. I wished I was still in the bar, singing and dancing. But when I got home, the rain stopped.

I looked up and saw a rainbow hanging in the clouds.

This is a good start of the day, I thought to myself.


  1. Howard,
    I love how you are able to describe both the pros and cons of the bubble that exists for all of us. As soon as I read the topic for this week, I automatically thought about the negative side of the bubble. However, as you pointed out, it is important at times. It definitely is comfortable to spend time in the bubble, it’s a sense of security. Then, you go on to acknowledge the importance of stepping out of the bubble. It truly is a rewarding feeling! This is why we have traveled as far as we have. I think it is fun to find a little piece of home throughout our travels, as long as we don’t make that the center of our world. Being in Sydney, I don’t think there’s as much of a difference between my bubble and the outside world. I could imagine, though, the relief to have a bubble to go to sometimes, escaping the possible stress, no matter how wonderful and exciting, a different language and culture can cause.

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