For a girl who tends to use the word “stress” in every other sentence, has been described as a “worrywart” not only by her mother, but by herself & many others, quadruple checks the front door to make sure it’s locked before bed, believes that both of her last names (Elliott and Blake) are cursed with bad luck including undue physical harm, and has little faith in something actually happening that is supposed to happen, I cannot understand where this sudden surge of optimism, tranquility, slow and steady breathing, and down right cheer is coming from. There is only one answer: Paris.
It has been 1 year, 1 month, 6 days, 3 hours, 26 minutes, and 5 seconds since the last time I was in Paris, and every second of that time has been a second too long. I remember being so devastated when poor Adam accidentally got us stuck at a hotel near Charles De Gaulle airport (remember that bad luck thing I was mentioning?) on the last night of our honeymoon (a night that was supposed to be spent in Paris) and wondering if I would ever make it back to the city I had fallen so in love with…the City of Lights.
Well, never in my “right” mind did I EVER think that I would be here now, this soon. No way did I think that I would actually do something like this…well, for myself. After days, really months of soul-searching, aggressive resistance to a mind that most often takes a realistic approach to life, MANY coaching sessions from dear friends and colleagues (Apple, Barb, Emma – you guys deserve a trophy the size of Texas for the amount of hours you invested in this decision), and the tears with my husband and my family, I made the decision to come back to Paris.
Now, one might be thinking: “Why would this decision be so hard? Just do it.” Hmph – not so easy for a gal like me. You see, that’s not how this mind works. From my earliest memories my mind functions in the most peculiar and downright frustrating ways. A thought such as “I should drop my entire life, take every dime I have saved (including my nest egg for a down payment on a house) and up and go to Europe for 6+ weeks” is hastily gobbled up by: “Don’t be insane girl! A decision like that is SO selfish! Something like that is just not in YOUR stars. You are married. You have bills – BIG nasty school loan bills. You have a career that needs to, NO must be continued”….the list goes on and on…
For me this is all quite unsettling…living with a mind that is always doubting, always challenging, always questioning itself…it’s downright EXHAUSTING. At the same time, I pride myself in knowing there is something else that I have: insight. There is not a single day that goes by that I do not internally face who I am and what I am. I cry when I want to cry, I laugh (really loudly) when I want to laugh, and I stomp my feet in desperation when I want to – these things, although not the most attractive aspects of who I am, are things I’m proud to know that I can turn off and on when I feel like it. This insight is what made it so challenging to get to Paris, BUT I am aware that this insight is why I am here…I knew in my heart and my gut, that if I did NOT do this for myself, I would NEVER forgive myself.
So long story short. Here I am. In Paris. And every pang of doubt and agony that I rode on to get here was damn well worth it. I have a love for this city that makes me ache inside. The smells, the sights, the sounds, the lights, the way the city morphs into something completely different as the moon rises…it’s all spectacular…all of it. Paris is the love of my life – second to my husband and B-Bug of course : )
Everywhere I look I am in awe of the beauty of this city. Every crevice, every stone, every speck of water on the Seine, every turn of the light atop the Tour Eiffel makes me giggle with glee from the inside out.
I arrived in Paris without a hiccup, not one. I left London quite nervous about whether I would actually make it into the heart of Paris due to a “rolling transportation strike” that had begun the evening before my arrival. I was warned on the Eurostar train, that I may not be able to use the RER/Metro trains at all, and should plan to find another form of transportation. Attempting to be hopeful, I didn’t let the announcement rattle my nerves, but instead insisted on waiting until I arrived to see for myself…wow that doesn’t sound like me at all!
After disembarking from the Eurostar, I hauled my bags down to the metro entrance and waited for my turn to buy a ticket. There wasn’t a person in the area that didn’t have the same dreaded look upon their face wondering the same thing as I – “What in the heck am I gonna do if this train isn’t going? I can’t even speak French.”
Lucky enough I was able to purchase a metro ticket with my broken French, and then cautiously head for the B train. Yep, no B train to be had, but the D train came rolling in after only a few minutes wait, and I was sent on my way towards Le Marais.
Stepping out of the metro for the first time gave me a rush like never before. Every cell in my body happily danced to the magnetism of the city and I sighed the biggest sigh imaginable. I was here! In Paris! Now, if I can just find the apartment services…ah! A map! A glance at the map, a right turn, then a left, then another right and voila! Found it no problem! Not one wrong turn!
An hour or so later I was in my apartment and settling in. The apartment looks just as it did in all of the pictures (phew!) and is actually quite larger than I expected. The pesky bank drafts that I spent 10 days retrieving at home were gladly accepted from the apartment service and their offer to provide additional towels and linens upon my request was such a relief.
As I searched through the apartment I realized that this was as close as it gets to really living in Paris. No toilet paper, no paper towels, no travel size shampoo or body wash…nada. Knowing I needed to make a b-line for the supermarket, I allowed myself to do only one thing next. I ran, no I actually sprinted towards the Seine River to capture that first glimpse…and ha! There it was! The Eiffel Tower! I stood there as the world swirled around me and took it in. I cried, I laughed, I jumped up and down! I fist pumped the air! I did everything in my power to tell everyone in the world that I made it!
After pinching myself only a half dozen times, I turned back towards Notre Dame, and headed to a little creperie that Adam and I frequented during our stay last year. Funny enough, I had my first REAL interaction with a Parisian. As I excitedly requested: “Je voudrais une crepe avec chocolate et des frites” the crepe guy abruptly (and not so sweetly) corrected my pronunciation of french fries on the spot: “No. When you are in Paris you say “free-t” not “free-tzzz” Do you understand?” Ah….Paris. How I love you so.
I ended my afternoon with a trip to the supermarche. I spent what had to have been 2 hours scanning the aisles, comparing this product to that product, turning things upside down and backwards, opening and closing my french dictionary…it was pure bliss. After grabbing 40 Euros of supplies and treats to stock my little fridge, I was again ill received by the woman at the checkout stand (clearly coming to France during low season and not being fluent in French is bad taste….oops.) Refusing to allow ANYONE to damper my trip, I skipped back to the apartment, dropped off my goodies, and headed out for dinner in the Latin Quarter.
My second day in Paris was enchanting. Camera in hand, I snapped shots of the areas surrounding Notre Dame (which is literally a 2/12 minute walk from my apartment!), the Eiffel Tower, and the Arc De Triomphe. Unfortunately the metro lines were down here and there, so attempting to navigate my way through the city was quite an interesting feat.
I dined on French onion soup and a cafe au lait, I sat beneath the Eiffel Tower and let the sunshine warm my face, I walked the bridges across the Seine many times over, I looked for ankle boots and a new coat (it’s quite chilly here) in St. Michele, I stopped at a boulangerie/patisserie for a chocolate crepe and a french baguette for dinner, and I finished the day with a large glass of wine and homemade pasta. The day was simply magnificent.
Day 3 in Paris = le jour de repos (the day of rest). After a solid week of non-stop sight-seeing, I am using today as a “recharge my batteries” type of day. I was lucky enough to spend an hour on Skype with my husband this morning (isn’t Skype amazing?!) and have plans to take a book to the cafe across the street and read for the rest of the afternoon. That is it.
Tomorrow I’m back to sight-seeing, this time by le velo (bike) as the weather permits…jusque la…
A few moments walk from my apartment: Notre Dame.
Another view of beautiful Notre Dame.
Locks of love above the Seine.
Vendors along the river.
The streets of St. Michele. A great place to grab a bite to eat, although I’m told it is the most tourist filled area in Paris…I would agree.
A fantastic paper store I found near the apartment…except its wholesale. They only allow local business owners into the shop : ( Fun to glue my face to the window though.
Can you see it???
There it is!!!
La Tour Eiffel.
The sun peeking through.
A quite cafe in the afternoon.
The Arc De Triomphe.
One of the many boutiques along the Champs Elysees…oh Yves Saint Laurent…maybe someday.
The sun, The Seine, and the Tower. If you look closely there is a reflection off my camera in a red, white and red stripe…almost looks like the French flag…crazy right?!
Night fall is the best time in Paris. Just look at the moon!
The glowing Seine River.
The view on my walk back at night.