In Paris the boulevards beneath skeiny tree branches and high stone apartment buildings suggested exclusivity and history. Glances of emptiness from men and those of mild interest from women showed that it was their Paris. With the confidence of Napoleon they walked past him. In passing the Champ D’Elysees, the Louvre, or as he meandered along the Seine, he played the tourist, removed from people and focused on the sites. These were international symbols of French greatness. This was theirs, their history.
New York was just the opposite, he mulled. It depended on foreigners, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. There was less to be collectively proud of in New York. You could easily become a New Yorker, but when you talked to your neighbor about the oncoming spring, there was expectation, not pride. In Paris even the cherry blossoms were French.
The regions of the United States won’t understand that for some time yet. When Americans appear as that, instead of a melting pot of races, the stew will have a distinctive taste. Although New York and Paris share seasons, equal lengths of spring and fall. Weather unites denizens. Sun all year round spoils you, can lead to complacency. In the best cultural capitals, wet winters and hot summers represent life’s extremes.