I have a confession to make -- my husband and I are going to Paris in fifteen weeks!
This time last year my husband and I were in Paris. We had booked the trip impulsively over Valentine's Day weekend when Air Canada had a blowout international seat sale. What could be better than Paris in the spring?!
Our trip started out a bit rough. I had been grinding it out at my unhappy job and a few days before we left I had been responsible for overseeing the season's gala event. A week of no sleep, endless arguments about seating plans and placement of silent auction items had culminated with a seventeen hour day that included a parade of crepey arms poking out from ghastly beaded and chiffon gowns, the occasional drunken tantrum, and a rip in my favourite silver cocktail dress from crawling beneath a table to retrieve some richer-than-rich woman's diamond clip-on earring. My husband, in anticipation of being away from his clients for two weeks, hadn't taken a day off in over a month. We collapsed on the plane in a mutually agreed upon (slightly Ativan induced) silence and groggily emerged from Charles de Gaulle airport what seemed like a thousand years later.
Paris fills me with the thrill of unknown possibilities. Despite our driver not being at the airport as planned, despite arriving at the hotel to find the lobby full of fanny-pack wearing Americans, and despite the first baguette sandwich we ate tasting like a piece of regurgitated cardboard, I was ecstatic to be back in Paris. The smell of the city had already aroused my senses and I couldn't wait to luxuriate in two, full weeks devoted to Paris.
But it wasn't to be. The first few days we fumbled, gasped and grumbled our way around the city, bickering with each other, and failing to find our piece of Paris. On our third day in an effort to change our black mood, we took the RER to Disneyland Paris. Embarrassingly, it was this day trip with its overbearing, anesthetized Americaness that made Paris come to life again and our next twelve days were bliss. Both of us had tears in our eyes as we stood in line to board the plane home back to Victoria.
Every time I return from Paris, I adopt the fatalistic attitude that I will never return to Paris again. This time it was made worse by the fact that shortly after our return , I quit my unhappy job to be happy, knowing that this decision came with certain sacrifices that likely included our semi-annual trips to Paris. I tried to comfort myself with the logic that I had already been to Paris more times than I ever dreamed possible and that Paris would be there waiting whenever I could return.
My husband had other ideas. A mere few weeks into my happy new job, he emerged excitedly from the computer room ,
"You are not going to believe this! U2 is playing in Paris on September 18. We are so going."
And so we were. Six weeks later I drove to our local DHL courier office to pick-up two concert tickets: U2 - 360 TOUR SAMEDI 18 SEPTEMBRE 2010 A 19H30 STADEFRANCE
For the past nine months, I have been planning a trip I thought I wouldn't take again for at least five years. Like any other goal, Paris exists as a focal point in my mind's eye keeping me from excesses and reminding me again and again what is most important. In fifteen weeks, I will hold my husband's hand as we sit in les jardins luxembourg licking crepes crumbs from our sticky lips. In fifteen weeks, I will enter the boot department of les galeries lafayette - a department that is almost as large as your neighbourhood Costco - and buy pairs of gorgeous boots that will come with my favourite phrase, "I bought them in Paris." In fifteen weeks, I will drink a cafe creme in le jardin at Musee Rodin and surrender to its romance and the butterflies in my stomach.
When I booked our plane tickets, I felt a tremendous sense of relief. I had been holding my breath, waiting for the exact moment when I knew for certain I would return to Paris. Now I know. Paris in Septembre - I can breathe again.