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?)