My time in Paris flew by, just like the scenery while on the train. It was a great trip.
I spent two weeks in a brand new city, all alone. I hardly spoke to anyone in those two weeks. I of course, spoke a little French when necessary - merci beaucoup was actually about it! I ordered food in restaurants on occasion, and I asked directions a couple of times. Other than that I really didn't talk! I was alone with my thoughts and that was something that I really needed. I walked and explored when I wanted to. I ate and drank when I wanted to. I went wherever I wanted to go on my own time schedule! I slept when I was tired and read a bunch of books. It was restful and restorative.
I also did a lot of things that I had never done before. Honestly, I did a lot things I always thought I wasn't very good at. I have always believed (for various reasons) that I had no sense of direction and couldn't find my way out of a paper bag; that I was a terrible navigator and couldn't read a map worth a damn. This trip was full map reading, navigating and finding my way around an unfamiliar city. While there were plenty of times that I had no idea where in Paris I was, I always found my way back to where I wanted to go. Proving that of course, I can read a map and get around in the world just fine on my own.
Remember this crazy map?
Another thing I'd been told forever is that I am pretty high maintenance. Apparently, I need certain drinks and certain accommodations to be a happy girl. Well let me tell you...I couldn't find a cup of black iced tea with a slice of lemon in all of Paris. Anyone who knows me at all, is well aware of my tea addiction. I drink iced tea morning, noon and night. Even Starbucks in Paris had no iced tea! Being so high maintenance, you'd think I'd have died or have had to cancel the trip. I'm here to tell you that I survived just fine without my regular tea. I made due with "ice tea peche." It was Lipton tea with peach flavoring in a very small bottle and came at quite a price, 3-6 Euros a pop. It wasn't anything like the iced tea I usually drink and it had sweetener in it! Still, I survived. There were days when I didn't have any tea at all! God forbid!! I STILL survived! Shocking, I know. As for my accommodations...I didn't stay at a four star hotel. I rented a studio apartment in a working class, busy and noisy neighborhood. It was cluttered and a bit tacky. I couldn't have been more happy staying there. It was perfect! It was close to the metro, included a washer and a warm shower. I survived and was quite comfortable thank you very much. Hmmm....perhaps I'm not so high maintenance after all. Go figure!
Lipton Ice Tea Peche poured into a wine glass without ice!
Old, narrow stairs leading up to the flat I rented.
Now let's talk about being lazy. This is also something I have been told and had believed about myself. I have no idea how many miles I walked while in Paris, but I can tell you that I walked for hours everyday. Is sitting down and looking at an amazing piece of art considered lazy? I did do that. I also stayed in the apartment and read for a whole day - it was a vacation after all! I even sat in a few cafes and watched the world go by every so often. So if that qualifies me as lazy then I guess I'll take it. But I thought a lot about that label while I was gone, and thought a lot about my life in general in terms of being lazy. I don't know why I took that label and owned it. I tossed that label out the window on this trip. It's not possible to have nine kids, teach 20 first graders, and live a full life like I have and be lazy. I'm not sure why I didn't realize that before this trip. I guess it took walking for miles and miles, and having the space to examine my life to figure that out. I'm so glad I did.
Napping does not equal lazy.
Another take away from this trip was probably the most important and most positive realization for me. I have been told in lots of different ways that I am too dependent to do anything on my own. Now I enjoy the company of others. I do. I enjoy having friends, meeting new people, working collaboratively with my colleagues, hanging out with my kids etc. I also very much love having some time to myself. I love peace and quiet. I love to read and write and be alone. This doesn't happen very often in my life - remember those 9 kids and 20 first graders? I don't get much of an opportunity for alone time in my life and this trip certainly gave me that! I didn't need to be with anyone else. I didn't want to be with anyone else. I was fine on my own and continue to be fine on my own. I've been fine on my own for quite some time now and have managed to take care of myself and my kids on my own. Again, having the time to walk and think and examine gave me the perspective to realize that dependent is not the same as enjoying the company of others. I am plenty independent and capable and competent. Phew!
All by myself, sitting in a restaurant, reading a book, happy and content as can be.
I probably didn't need to go all the way to Paris to discover that these things that I had believed about myself weren't true, but I'm sure glad I did! It was a wonderful place to walk, contemplate and get to know myself better. As I was exploring one day, I happened upon a store with the strangest window displays ever. I loved one of them most especially because it pretty much summed up how I was feeling about these negative things I had always believed about myself. I had to take a picture.
Nothing like a big red chimp to get the point across eh?
My Eccos served me well in Paris so I think I'll take them on some more adventures. Stay tuned!
Eccos on my age in Paris.