Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Paris-Spective

In the months leading up to this Paris trip, and even as the months slipped into weeks and days, my excitement about coming back to Paris felt subdued.  I half-hardheartedly installed a Paris countdown App on my phone and replied "Paris! Yay!" to every you-must-be-thrilled-to-be-going-back comment. 

Since I started treatment for my anxiety in April, I have felt better than I have in years.  And it's had a huge, positive affect on all areas of my life from my relationships to my appetite.  I have been happy, less restless and able to enjoy my life as it happens in the moment.  I finally feel like I am living my life again rather than just being a cynical observer.  The summer I just spent in Victoria was easy,  happy and filled with everything I love.  For the first time in ages I didn't feel frantic to escape.

Summer in Victoria
 So perhaps in the past I have sometimes mistaken desperation for excitement? 

Arriving in Paris last night, I felt the same sense of calm wash over me as I always do.  Though this time, instead of my heart racing to stand still it just felt full.  This new sense of peace is one of the things I have been most looking forward to sharing with Paris.  I can't wait to appreciate Paris from this new, relatively sane, place.

Last night I left Chris to unpack and went to buy groceries.  My connection to Paris was immediate and I felt the familiar sense of boldness return.  Weaving in and out of tourists and locals, I walked along the back of Champ de Mars park to the late night grocery store and tried to ignore the glowing Eiffel Tower.  I want our reunion to be a shared one with Chris.

10pm and the cafes were full.  I could smell the slightly sweet smell of warm alcohol and hear knives scraping the last bloody bites of steak frites.  Tourists slouched over crumpled maps trying to chart their way back to their hotels while Parisians huddled on top of each other sharing their days' intimacies over wine.  One couple dined with their hulking Bull Mastiff splayed at their feet.  An older woman at a nearby table wrapped her long strand of pearls around her hand while sharing a plate of oysters with her husband.  (lover?)

This is the Paris I know.

At the grocery store I breezed through the familiar aisles filling my basket with Haribo, saucisson, cheese and bread.  Buying a wedge of brie for 2 euros never gets old and my full basket, including beer and three kinds of cheese, totaled 25 euros.  The cashier called me "Madame" and carried on a conversation with me in French as though I belonged and wasn't wearing smelly clothes that I just slept in on a 9 hour flight.

I love slipping back into speaking French. I think French is my most powerful and chic accessory.  Speaking French even makes me feel more beautiful and confident than wearing an expertly tied Chanel scarf.

Parisians of the Day 
Flying from London to Paris in business class, the seats are assigned so that there is never a middle occupant.  So if you are traveling as a couple you have an entire seat between you.  A French couple, probably in their early sixties, sat across the aisle from Chris and me.  They were loaded down with MOMA bags and looked, in that impossibly French way, crumpled and chic.  The man was wearing sunshine yellow chinos, electric blue socks and tiny tortoise-shell glasses over a prominent nose.  Only French men can successfully pull off this look.  He chose the empty middle seat to be closer to his wife and their bodies stayed touching the entire flight.  When Paris finally came into view, she threw her arms enthusiastically around his neck and covered his cheek with noisy kisses.  He glanced over at us, smiling the entire time.   


3 comments:

Sandy Wagner said...

I'm so glad you are back where you belong.
I love the comment about speaking French making you feel more elegant and confident.
:)
Tante Sandy

materfamilias said...

Oh, my dear, I want to pre-order your book, really! Lovely writing, and I'm so very happy for you that your Paris is there for you so fully and so immediately in the visit. Do give her a hello from me, please.

Graham Duncan said...

thanks for writing about your anxieties, you are not alone. Your words were honest and full of courage. Embrace your imperfections as you do your hopes - together they will get you to where you want to be.