My first day in Paris included me facing a wall across the street from the river Seine, sobbing. It was windy that day, and pouring rain. My umbrella was broken and limp, and my new brown leather purse was soaked.
We had been looking for a cafe so that I could sit down and rest my knees. Coming up from the Trocadéro, we had passed many and not given them a second thought. However now that I desperately needed to sit down, none were to be found...anywhere. I was already beginning to limp, and my shoulder blade was killing me.
I had forgotten how noisy Paris was. Horns beeping, no real lanes to be spoken of, and huge roundabouts that put the chaos theory into real life observation. In Paris cars roll right up to the crosswalk marker for pedestrians, putting no real distance between the car and the person crossing the cobblestone street; something I was never able to really get used to.
Getting ready to cross the street, I looked both ways and took three steps out - “Amber!”. My entire body froze and I felt everything inside of me tighten. “What!” I screamed. With shaking hands I pushed back the fur on my hood and looked to my right. Nothing. I was beginning to sweat. Barely breathing, I shot a glance to my left. Nothing. Where was it? Where was the car?! I braced my body for an impact that I was sure was going to come at any instant. I spun around as quickly as I could and saw Fermin standing on the curb. I had thought that he was right behind me, crossing with me. “Goddamnit” I screamed running towards him. There hadn’t been a car.
Fermin had called my name because he had found a cafe. It hadn’t occurred to him that calling my name while I was in the middle of a crosswalk might have been a bad idea. For the next several minutes, which felt like hours, I stood hyperventilating and crying with my broken umbrella in the rain, facing a wall. I’m sure I looked insane.
“I think I need to take up smoking. That calms you down, right?” I asked. I had just ordered my first vin chaud of the trip, and had just taken the two photos shown here in the post. The rain had finally stopped, and I was working hard on shaking my PTSD “trigger” moment. Fermin mentioned that perhaps I should try the electronic cigarettes. I smiled at the irony of not hearing “No Amber, that’s a terrible idea.”
What I was beginning to wonder however, was if Paris was a terrible idea. I had held so many hopes for Paris when I had boarded my flight the day before: Paris was a world away from the lawyers, specialists, and therapists (although every one of them is lovely), that served as a constant reminder of what was now my “new normal”. Paris was going to be my escape. Paris was going to be my eternal city of where my joy was everlasting. Paris was going to be the city where I was going to get hit by yet another fucking car and die. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all; it was my first day here and already I was asking for a cigarette. I don’t even smoke!
It can be hard chasing a dream. It can be even more challenging when a dream that was finally within your grasp gets taken away from you not in one swift and dramatic ripping out of the hands, but in a slow, steady chipping away that leaves you with something that feels like a consolation prize that you fear will never be able to measure up. Secretly, I had hoped that Paris would disappoint me on this trip. I had hoped that Paris would be unrelenting, cruel, rude...a city that I would be happy to leave behind. Sometimes that hardest part about having a dream or a goal is knowing when to let it go. When it comes to dreaming, where does the fine line of not giving up and kicking a dead horse lie?
|Look at those blue skies! Taken about 30 minutes before the crosswalk incident.|
As you might have guessed, Paris did not disappoint. She certainly threw me some curve-balls though; Like pouring torrential rains that fell sideways, a PTSD episode, and a shower that decided not to make hot water part way through the trip. She also gave blossoming cherry trees, a reconnection with old friends, and so many tiny moments of pure happiness that I’m still trying to write down out of fear of forgetting.
So my loves, here’s to Paris. I cannot wait to share more!