At our wedding, affectionately nicknamed ‘The United States of England’, home was a theme played up through our wedding colours, our native red white and blues – the Stars and Stripes for Cass and the Union Jack for Mark. We chose this colour scheme for all our decor, our outfits, the bouquet, and as a theme for the script of our ceremony which we wrote ourselves. It was completely wacky, and completely us. We had so much fun celebrating with friends and family in the sweltering hot Savannah, Georgia.
In our vows, surrounded by friends and family from around the globe, we talked about how loving and living internationally was hard. In order to be together we gave up being neighbours with our brothers and sisters. We gave up the comfort of living in a place where you knew everyone because you went to grade school with them. We did this because we knew we wanted to spend as little time apart as possible, and because living somewhere that wasn’t ‘home’ to either of us was a neutralizing decision that reflected the value of equality we strive for in our relationship.
We intentionally chose Canada as our home because it sat comfortably somewhere between American and British cultures, and that compromise felt right for us as a couple. In that same way, we have intentionally chosen Paris to put down roots for our family, a place that sits comfortably between the relentless drive of a big city and the approachability and natural charm of a small town.
At our final Paris Lectures of 2015, we invited David Powell, an interior designer well-known in these parts for his successful career founding the design firm Powell & Bonnell in Toronto, to speak about Paris. (David’s work, coincidentally, fits well with the theme of designing one’s home; check out some of his beautiful work below). He grew up in Paris and like so many other Parisians, returned, stayed, and continues to love his town and pour his heart and energy into efforts that preserve and revitalize its heritage. We were eager to hear his thoughts about how the town had changed in his over forty years of observation as well as his vision for what the future of Paris could look like if it were well-designed.
When we were considering moving to Paris, we evaluated what was important to us and knew we would have to make some sacrifices. For example we hadn’t owned a car the entire time we lived in Toronto and quite enjoyed walking everywhere. But, we planned to gain something intangible as well: we studied local hiking trails, evaluating nerdy things like air quality and school ratings. We sussed out the creative community online, researching and reaching out to other local designers and artists (who were so warm and receptive to our cold calls). We visited the town several times and fell head over heels for the Grand.
So it is with great enthusiasm that we now pour our rare and precious spare time and energy into endeavours like this, Jane & Jury and Paris Lectures, into supporting the Paris Museum and other local efforts, because we think in the end it will matter that we belong somewhere and care about it deeply.
“The people who have chosen to come to this town, the people who have embraced it, who have brought skill sets, who have brought enthusiasm, who have brought different points of view, who love this town – these are the people who will be Parisians. They’re you.”
– David Powell
David ended his talk with a heartfelt welcome to folks like us, shrugging off the unfortunate moniker of ‘Parisite’ (given to those in Paris whose family wasn’t born and raised here for more than a generation). This means more to us than he could possibly know. We have embraced the idea that for people like us – and certainly for people less fortunate than us – home is a chosen place. We are grateful and proud to have chosen Paris.