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You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
I’ve arrived safe and sound in Paris! (that picture is a garden that’s in my neighbourhood)
After practically crying on the plane!
In the twenty-hours leading up the trip, the thought of flying made me nervous. Once I was finally on the plane and experienced three hours of turbulence (minus a couple of ten-minute breaks of calm), I remembered why. It couldn’t have been that bad if none of the overhead bins burst open with luggage falling onto our heads (thank goodness!), but when the lady in the back screamed, and when the stomach-lurches similar to a rollercoaster drop happened multiple times in a row, I needed a hand to hold.
But I didn’t have one.
The plane was packed, and yet…the seat right next to me was empty (just so you know I’m not making that up to be dramatic. If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that, and if you’re new you should know that I only tell the truth, like that time I blogged about having diarrhea at an Indian wedding and ruining my fancy clothes…at least I was only eight—go ahead and look it up, it’s in the archives from 2009). I took the empty seat as a sign of cruel symbolism, a reminder that when I arrived in Paris, I would be completely alone. I did have an option one seat over, an elderly woman whose hand I could’ve gripped for support, and yet…I would’ve rather kept digging my nails into my palms than ever make contact with her.
Because she was crazy.
It wasn’t the hollowed-out circles under her eyes, like two grand canyons sinking into unknown depths, it wasn’t even the fact that she was wearing disturbingly short shorts. It was, in truth, the horrifying way she scanned weekly flyers for all the latest sales…but they were flyers from the month of March!
Maybe she has a time machine I don’t know about? Maybe she seduced the Christopher Lloyd character from Back to the Future with her provocative short-shorts to gain special access to the time-bending apparatus? That’s the only explanation I can think of, because why else would a person nod to herself while carefully noting shampoo sales at the drug store, ground beef sales at the grocery store, and lumber sales at the home improvement store…for prices that expired in March?!
On the plus side, in the four hours without any turbulence I finished reading a book. So at least I was somewhat productive even though I didn’t get to sleep. But we’ll get to that later.
And then I arrived in Paris!
My friend who has lived in Paris reminded me not to get too hyped up when I arrived at the airport. No Eiffel Tower view, no berets and baguettes being handed out as you exit, just a place that looks like any other place; grass and road. Even still I looked out the window like a giddy golden retriever for the entire drive. Once the signs for “Central Paris” started getting more frequent, I felt a little flutter in my heart. A light flutter, mind you, but strong enough to remain unfazed when the man in the Toyota Corolla next to us picked his nose aggressively. There was a high fence separating whatever buildings were beyond the highway, but I noticed the tops of the buildings getting more and more classic…and artistic…and inspiring. Then, with an agressive turn into the “bus only” lane, the driver illegally zipped past all the traffic.
And that’s when I saw the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.
The next thing I knew I was approaching the Latin Quarter, but how? It all happened so fast, one second a highway and a nose-picker, and the next second…one of the grandest sights in Paris.
It’s a cheese-bag moment, but I totally had tears in my eyes.
Before I could add a cathartic sob to my emotional reaction, the driver suddenly came to a stop and said “Voila” (he spoke no English, by way). The driver wasn’t totally wrong, as I do live pretty close to the cathedral, but even a novice like me would know this wasn’t my street. I showed him the address again: “Mais c’est ici.” He shook his head and made these excited hand gestures, about how his van was so big and the street was too small: “Par la pied.”
He was telling me to walk it.
Normally I’d have no problem with a stroll around the corner, but remember the luggage from my previous post? And don’t forget to add a laptop bag to the mix. He stared at me blankly, and suddenly my very first “Paris moment” was upon me. And so, at nine a.m., as brasserie employees hosed down the cobblestoned streets and delivery trucks dropped off the fresh morning goods, I stumbled along with my carry-on suitcase fighting the cobblestone, my laptop bag hung around my shoulder, and a backpack cradled in my arms like a giant thirty-five-pound baby. I dropped it all off at the door to my building (except for the laptop), ran back with the fear of approaching thieves, and wheeled over my giant suitcase for round number two. The taxi driver watched it all. I still ended up giving him a tip, because let’s face it, when it’s day one of a city/country/continent you’ve never been in, you are basically scared of everything.
You know…I thought this post would include my entire first day, but I write these things on the fly to keep it organic, and the post right here organically grew to full-length, before I even got past nine a.m. on the first day!
I guess that means I’ll have a lot to say during my six-month stay in Paris. So I’ll see you on Wednesday for more, sound good?
À bientôt (keep scrolling for pictures below!),
PS: Here are a couple of photos of what I’ve seen so far. I’ll be posting much more on my Facebook author page this week.
View of La Seine from the Left Bank
Palais Garnier Opera House
Thank you so much for deciding to do this blog during your adventure. I have tears in my eyes looking at these photos. You are so lucky to be there!
Hi Caddy, thanks for the kind words, I’m going to make the most of this!
Disgusting as it was, that 8-year-old-Romi-at-the-wedding post was the first one that made me realize that you and your writing were the Real Deal.
Oui. Tres organique. Sounds good.Till Wednesday then. Only question is, why didn’t you wear the backpack on your, uh, back? No need to answer that really.
It’s okay, I can answer it: when the backpack is 35 pounds, you can’t actually put it on unless you lay it on a bed, lean back, and then strap yourself in it ;-).
Romi I can really imagine your encounters and the feel being around the tower is enough to make any creative fellow melt. with thousand emotions…….hope you live your dream fully there in Paris……
I will be curious to know more about your exp. and see what you get into next….
I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog, I will update it twice a week!
Wonderful blog! Can’t wait for the next installment. I’m going to show your blog to my students and ask them to follow you!
I still can’t believe you showed it to your students Bisi (and they liked it!) That’s very cool, thank you!
[...] time I wrote, I only made it as far as nine a.m. on my first day (proving how much I can’t stop talking about Paris!), so let me continue from [...]