September 26, 2015
I made it to the correct train easy, breezy, beautiful covergirl. It’s a beautiful, beautiful day and I cannot wait to change into my new clothes, head town to the Eiffel tower and walk, walk, walk all over the Parisian streets. A funny thing is happening to me: I’m starting to think in both Spanish and German as though my mind is confused about which language to use – weird!
I haven’t felt this excited about being in a new city for a long time. I’m in Paris – PARIS!! I simply can’t wait to sit under the Eiffel tower with my homemade sandwich (half of which I just ate because I was too excited) and read and write and smile at people. My heart feels practically ready to burst – there are so many adventures here for me, I just know it. Goodbye for now, or as the French would say, ‘Au Revoir!’
Later – 4:42pm
There is a crisp breeze, the leaves are falling, my hair is a mess, my lips are red, the sun is poking through the clouds, and I am sitting in front of the EIFFEL TOWER like I have been dreaming about for so long. They say that happy is what happens when all your dreams come true – this must be why I am so happy right now. There are people sitting all around me; I can feel the autumn wind blowing through my hair. Fitzgerald said ‘Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall’. Is this what he meant? Because I really feel like I can do anything, be anyone. Really, how can life get any better than this? Even if I get married one day and have a family, I think I will always look back at these years as some of the happiest in my life. Maybe it is selfish of me to say that, but maybe sometimes you’re allowed to be a little selfish. I don’t know. I’m just so in love with the world right now that I can’t contain my smiles. It still feels surreal that the Eiffel Tower is in front of me. The Iron Lady. I can see the names Morin, Hauy, Combes, Thenard, Arago, Poisson and Monce on the edge of it. I don’t know what the names mean but I will find out. It always feels strange to me that I am so close to history. I can’t even imagine how many people have looked at it and felt the same way I do. Maybe one day, I’ll come here and lie on the grass with a boy and be in love. But for now, it’s just me.
Actually, there’s a good-looking guy across from me sitting with another guy and a girl. Sometimes I wonder why I am so afraid to say ‘hello’ to people. People in books and movies do it all the time so why is it so hard in real life? Sometimes I think I try too hard. Sometimes I think I don’t try hard enough.
I navigated my way through the subway really well. The ticket that I bought from the airport to the city didn’t work when I tried to get on another metro line (maybe it expired or something) but I didn’t want to buy another one so I snuck through after a guy with crutches. Well, technically he let me in. That was kind of him. The ticket from the airport to the city was a whopping $10 – so expensive! The one in Geneva was only $3. Geez…
My friend Omar (whom I met in Geneva) and his girlfriend met me at the station and gave me coffee, cake and some Tunisian pastries. I am always amazed by the kindness and generosity of people. It really is a beautiful thing. Then Omar walked me back to the station and told me how to get to the Arc de Triomphe. I couldn’t contain my smiles when I saw it. I felt like jumping up and down (but I didn’t). Then I saw the Eiffel Tower in the distance and I actually backtracked to get a better view of it and stood there, staring at it in wonder and awe. Wondering what I did to get so lucky in life.
The sun is still warming the side of my face; it feels nice. Oh – I just heard the good looking guy’s voice. He’s french. I wonder if he speaks English. I walked around the Arc de Triomphe trying to find the stairs to enter. Of course, I would get lost. But I found them at long last and waited in line for my free ticket thanks to the fact that I am under 25 and a European citizen. Ah, the perks of life sometimes. I think I shall have to go the top again…maybe at sunset. I just really want to make the most of my days in Paris. Take nice photos, and make good memories, and meet lovely people…maybe become as confident as French woman – wouldn’t that be nice, haha. More importantly, I want to be fearless in pursuit of what I want and carry myself with confidence, and make the life of at least one person better, even if all I do is smile at them. Because I don’t know what I have to offer the world, but at least I have a smile.
PS: The good-looking french guy left.
September 27, 2015
I just went to mass at Notre Dame – it made me feel like crying. It’s weird how beautiful things often make me want to cry. I kept imagining Esmerelda singing God Help the Outcasts and feeling so sad. And I like how she found comfort there.
Right now, I’m sitting on the Banks of the River Seine. I can see the Notre Dame in the distance and the sun is glorious, and I bought some art work for my sisters and the world is wonderful. There is a guy fishing beside me smoking…he seems cool. (Even though I don’t like smoking). But only a cool sort of person would sit on the bank of a river fishing and smoking by himself. A lady just dropped her change and I had to chase after her to give it to her. I also had to give a man $2 on the subway this morning. In exchange, he blew me a kiss and helped me find the correct line to Notre Dame. I didn’t really want to give it to him because I need coins to pay for the metro – but he seemed honest and kind and as Anne Frank said ‘No one has ever become poor by giving.’ Besides, everyone has been so kind and generous to me, so really, it was the least I could do.
Later – 2:45pm
I went to browse through a flea market in the Marais and I wanted to buy a book but they were all in french. The Marais is really just a labyrinth of cobble stoned lanes and I wandered around not really knowing where I was half the time. I still need to walk the Champs Elysees, explore Montmartre, revisit the Eiffel tower and oh, so many things. I wonder if I shall ever find time to do all the things I want to do. And I want to do so many things, it scares me…
Even Later – 7:25pm
Luckily I have a spare pen because my black one just died. I cannot find the words to describe how Paris makes me feel. How it has filled me with inspiration I never even knew I needed. It’s just like the movies: french people walk with their backs straight, hips swaying, and a cigarette in their hand, La Vie en Rose drifts through the air, happy couples stroll by, the delicious aroma of fresh bread drifts out of cafes, people sit outside drinking wine and eating baguette….it’s just like the movies, only it isn’t the movies. No, this time, it’s real. It’s happening all around me – it’s happening right now. I am sitting on the steps of the Sacre Coeur watching the sun go down and I am breathless, I am captivated, and I am so in love. I think I know why. It’s because Paris is such a romantic city and I am such a romantic person. I live in this whimsical world in my head where I tend to make everything bigger and grander – but I don’t have to when I’m in Paris because Paris is exactly like I imagined it. Don’t you think the world is a better place where all the lips are painted bright shades of red, and people have wine and cheese for dinner, and there’s a yearly competition for the best baguette? (This is not a joke, there really is a competition for the best baguette!)
I just can’t get over these streets, and these views, and this atmosphere! Perhaps what draws me to it most of all is its artistic, romantic, and tragic history. All the great artists came here for inspiration. They met in cafes and bars and discussed ideas. The philosophers, the musicians, the painters, the writers…and even if they are dead now, I think their spirits live on. I walked past Picasso’s studio today and saw the fountain in front of it which he, in all likelihood, probably drank from. This is Victor Hugo’s Paris, the revolution in A Tale of Two Cities, Napolean, the Bastille… I have visited this city so many times in my head, but never like this. Not once like this.
Last night, I saw the Eiffel Tower lit up. I was wandering around it, trying to avoid the annoying people shoving water and keychains and other things I didn’t want or need in my face (seriously, how many times do I have to say ‘no’?!), and eventually found a place on the grass to sit. The sun was slowly fading, it disappeared, and then suddenly the Eiffel Tower turns golden and erupts with flashing, sparkling lights. They reminded me of fairies. I sat and watch it for a bit. The moon was really big and bright in the sky – it looked really pretty against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower. When it got too cold to sit there any longer, a french guy on his way to a party directed me to the correct subway and I went home to bed. Thus ended my first magical night in Paris!
It is too dark to write now, I must be going!
PS: I can see a man wearing a beret and backpack with a baguette sticking out of it – how more French-looking can you be!?
PPS: The sunset at Sacre Coeur is really quite spectacular except unfortunately, it doesn’t offer the best view of the Eiffel Tower. I had to walk back down a bit, past a woman singing La Vie en Rose and stand on this ledge looking through a crack in a gate to see the Eiffel Tower and even then, it was only a glimpse of it.