The Joys of Travel

Often, adventure lies in the journey itself.

Like a roadtrip in Mexico where we set off without destination and ended up diving from high cliffs into a turquoise sea, sleeping on a white-sand beach, and stumbling upon a haunted house (we ran away as there were haunted people inside, too).

Or in Ghana, where my guidebook’s only accommodation recommendation for a certain region was to find the “Jesus Reigns Supply Shop” and ask the owner, Michael, if we could stay at his place. (He wasn’t there, but the two workers we met kept us stuffed on sweet mangoes until Michael arrived to whisk us away on his motorbike. He and his wife’s little B&B turned out to be a nice respite).

Sometimes, though, you just want to get to where you’re going.

For my trip back to the States, this was the aim. But you know what they say about the best-laid plans.

On a good day, the drive to Charles de Gaulle Airport takes 30 minutes, though we always leave over an hour for the inevitable traffic jams. The airline had already called early in the morning to inform me that the flight had changed – I love (read hate) how they’re allowed to change any thing at will up to the last moment.

Even with the delay, it became a race to the finish. After over an hour and half stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, a mad dash off the highway to find the nearest RER train station because it was obvious I would miss the flight if I stayed stymied amongst the cars, a worried wait in the Aulnay sous Bois station as it began to rain, I made it to the airport and through all check-in and security procedures with 20 minutes to spare.

I was seated next to 15 young Russian children for the next 7 hours.

But I made it, and I remember why I come back home:

My niece, the cutest little girl in the world.

The hardest thing about being an expat is being far from family and friends. So you soak up every last second with them, say grace for the time spent.

I stayed with my sister and her husband in their new house in DC (congrats, homeowners!) and my above-noted gorgeous niece. My mom came up from North Carolina.

At the end of the weekend, I couldn’t imagine how I ever thought these few days would be enough. (No matter how long, it’s never enough).

But then another travel mishap to distract me. A tardy cab, an asshole driver, a missed bus, a long wait in the hot sun.

But now I’m in New York and it’s all okay again. My last trip here was something of a heartbreaker. I felt like an outsider to a place I had once known so intimately.

This time I’m more prepared. I accept that I am a visitor, that Paris is now home. But I’m visiting as I lived here – with an open wonder. This great city helped shape me, taught me to be who I am to the fullest.

I’m on 95th street on the West side and found it a good omen to pass this building on my block:

Sans Souci. Without Worry.

I’m adopting that motto.

Until I fly up to Vermont on Monday, that is. (Third trip’s a charm?)

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14 Responses to “The Joys of Travel”


  1. 1 Tina June 23, 2010 at 7:52 am

    Beautiful niece, beautiful blog. Much success to you in the residency! Let me know what you’re reading.

  2. 2 Sweet Freak June 23, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Oh my, how I can relate. The gratitude for time spent with family, but remorse at never having enough time (it’s never enough!). The alienation of NYC when it was once such a big part of you… the acceptance that Paris is now home. It’s funny how a trip home can be such a rollercoaster of emotions. Enjoy VT!

    • 3 paris (im)perfect June 23, 2010 at 3:29 pm

      Exactly. I always thought New York would feel familiar, like my home. The first time it didn’t broke my heart. But now I know it’s just one of the necessary byproducts of expatriation – and that really, I’m living a gift.

  3. 4 shira June 23, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Its sweet to follow you on your travels. I am glad we are both still wandering around the world. I’m in Kenya and will be in Ghana for the month of August. I just started blogging so yours is very encouraging. Safe travels- Hakuna Matata-which I think translates the same as Sans Souci.
    :)Shira

    • 5 paris (im)perfect June 23, 2010 at 3:36 pm

      Thanks, Shira! Wow, and you are doing some majorly awesome wandering! I will definitely check out your blog to find out all about Kenya and Ghana. Have fun blogging. It’s a nice way to keep track of what you’re experiencing and share it with the world.

  4. 6 Lindsey June 23, 2010 at 11:43 am

    What a lovely omen, “sans souci”! I feel the same way you do, a stranger in my own home, but you had the right strategy. If you can train yourself to perceive your situation differently – going as a visitor and not as a native – you tend to enjoy your time more. I have yet to reach that point but I hope that next time I have more closure.

    Traveling wouldn’t be half as eventful without the mishaps :)

    Enjoy!

    • 7 paris (im)perfect June 23, 2010 at 3:30 pm

      Totally agree, Lindsey. I think *most* things are about how we perceive situations. Good advice!

      And I agree that traveling wouldn’t be half as eventful without the mishaps. Sometimes you don’t *want* the transportation part to be eventful, but at least I get to complain about it on my blog :)

  5. 8 Alison June 23, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    It’s so true… there is never enough time when you visit family and friends back home. I view air travel as something I have to endure to get to the next adventure. It’s always a trial but the end result it worth it. Have a fabulous worry-free trip!

  6. 10 Delana June 23, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    What a beautiful baby, Sion. No, it is never enough time. I guess the good part about being an expat is we fully realize that and cherish those moments. I agree with Lindsay..I haven’t reached that point either but next visit…I swear…I’m going to arrive as a tourist. That should actually be fun.

    Hope you continue to have a wonderful time…sans souci!

    • 11 paris (im)perfect June 23, 2010 at 3:33 pm

      Isn’t she so beautiful? I can’t stop looking at her! You’re right – I think we cherish our time more because we know it’s so limited when we come back to visit. Expatriation heightens our awareness about a lot of things!

  7. 12 pariskarin June 24, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Ah, wow. What a stressful journey to get where you were going, but seeing the pics of your niece made the tension I was feeling just *reading* about your travel experience fade away. She is darling!

    Best as you visit home. :)

  8. 13 Rose July 15, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Hey! My partner and I are picking a destination most weekends this summer and getting in the car and going, and last weekend I was thinking about you and fondly remembering you whipping out a destination most weekends while we were in Cape Coast. I remember that motorbike ride :). I also remember waiting somewhere, though I can’t remember where, I think it was the same trip, eating the BEST roasted peanuts I’ve ever tasted, before or since… Thanks for putting a smile on my face this afternoon :).


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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