Paris has welcomed me back with sunshine. It’s warm and glorious and everything it wasn’t when I left. This makes my reluctant return after nearly 2 months in Spain easier.
I offer this idyllic image first because my journey home last night looked like this:
A French man in the row across from me got into an argument with the flight attendant. There wasn’t room for his suitcase in the bin above his seat and she wanted to stow it several rows up.
“Are you crazy?” he asked, as things heated up. “You want to put it all the way up there where anyone could steal it?”
“Sir, look around you. You’re not the only person on this flight.”
“That’s not my fault,” he shot back.
The stewardess finally grabbed the suitcase which he had been tightly gripping (what was in there?) saying we didn’t have time for this (everyone else was seated and he was the only reason we hadn’t started moving yet). He threatened to call the airline company and continued voicing complaints into the air.
About half an hour later the two French women next to me got into a verbal scuffle with the two French men ahead. One had dared to lower his seat back a little. Not in that annoying person-in-front-of-you-is-in-your-lap kind of way. Just a little.
They argued for about 10 minutes and as far as I could tell the resolution was that all seats would remain exactly as they were at the start of the scuffle. Just the fact of sparring seemed somewhat satisfactory to the women, however.
As background, a toddler ahead of the quarreling foursome threw a tantrum for most of the flight. It wasn’t the screaming that got to me so much as the looks people were giving the family. I could almost hear them saying it: mal-élevé, mal éduqué.
Hey, y’all, I’m thinking: what’s your secret for stopping a tantrum? Give them a break.
I willed myself not to acknowledge the growing dread I was feeling: I’m returning to the land of the râleurs (complainers).
The short flight proceeded without further incident (though suitcase man dashed to the front for his precious cargo before we had even fully parked) and I told myself I just needed to get home and everything would be fine. I usually take public transportation, but I had treated myself to a shuttle because I knew I would be coming in late.
“We’re sorry, Madame, but the shuttle had to move with other clients,” the Parishuttle representative tells me when I call upon arrival as instructed.
“Right, ok. Where do I get another shuttle?”
“There is no shuttle. But one solution I can offer you is that I will refund your money.”
“Ok, but I have a confirmed reservation. Don’t you have another car?”
“No, it’s not possible. I have already offered you the solution of refunding your money,” he replied in a huff.
See, I think we differ on the word solution here. I have paid for a service you’re not providing. I would think a refund would be obvious. A solution would actually involve getting me home, which is what I wanted.
But fine, whatever. I know how to get home.
I hop on the RER then get off at Gare du Nord to change. And…there are no signs to my metro line anymore. Have I been gone this long? That an entire metro line disappears?! I finally see a sign that from July 15 to September 2 access to metro line 2 is closed from Gare du Nord.
I wheel my suitcase, growing heavier by the moment, above ground and 15 minutes to the next station. Thankfully I get a seat on the subway and plop down in relief. And then I see people ahead of me moving away. And then I smell it. A man has vomited everywhere.
Now, is any of this Paris’ fault? No. Of course not. Did it make coming home hard? A wee bit.
My last week in Spain was wonderful. You already saw from my last post why I was so seduced. And no, not by a person. The place.
Well, then the next day I did meet someone. (Hey, if this strategy of saying what you don’t have then getting it works, please indulge me for a moment: I don’t have an agent or a book deal! I haven’t won the lottery! I don’t own summer (or winter!) homes in exotic locations!)
Phew, ok, thanks.
Anyway, it was a nice last week. Yesterday, as I was standing in the airport kissing this man and crying I’m thinking, really? I’m crying in a foreign airport as I’m leaving again? (Hint: this scenario has something to do with how I ended up in Paris).
This time, though, I know the experience exists in just one time and place and am grateful for the gift. I was already feeling so good, and then it got better.
“You are beautiful, you are strong, you know who you are, you will find happiness,” he told me, tears streaming down my face.
I don’t need a man to tell me these things to believe it. But gosh darn it, people, it’s been a long time! I am a strong solo sister, but this summer in Barcelona sort of showed me that it’s nice to be visible again. To feel alive in the world. For whatever reason, I feel invisible in Paris (unless I’m dancing in the street). The city is pretty enough that it has no need to pay attention to me.
But wow. Sometimes we need a little attention. A little sunshine. A little love.
I am beautiful. I am strong. I know who I am. I will find happiness.
A summer mantra I’m going to take with me into the rentree, y’all.
How about you?