End of Summer Mantra (and the Return to Paris)

A decorated street during Festa Major de Gracia

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.

A quiet plaza in Barcelona

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).

Smiles and laughter at pop-up amusement park, Barcelona

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.


Parque del Laberinto de Horta, Barcelona

The maze at Parque del Laberinto de Horta, Barcelona

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?

Turo de la Rovira, Barcelona

Secret observation spot in Barcelona

15 Responses to “End of Summer Mantra (and the Return to Paris)”

  1. 1 Lindsey Tramuta (@LostNCheeseland) August 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    WOW!!! First of all, amazing how you had a similar return to Paris experience as I did after a breezy 2 weeks in Philly + California – the moment I stepped onto the airplane, a Frenchman picked a fight with the flight attendant. He honestly deserved to be thrown off the plane.

    Second, that man said something beautiful to you and I hope you’re able to hold onto it while you’re in Paris. (ps. nothing can grow from your meeting? Must it be so fleeting?)


    • 2 paris (im)perfect August 24, 2012 at 12:10 am

      Hey Lindsey. Yeah, I know. I couldn’t believe how rude the guy was on the plane. I was like, really? The *second* I’m heading back to Paris and in starts the negativity? Sheesh!

      Also, yes. I was offered those powerful words and they felt like a gift. I, too, hope I can hold onto them. I think so much is about who we are in the inside and I want to be that bright, shining person I know I can be. I also know that place *does* affect me and for whatever reason Paris does not always bring out the best in me.

      I loved the reminder of who I truly feel I am. This is the city of light. I want to glow here, too.


      • 3 paris (im)perfect August 24, 2012 at 12:19 am

        PS, to answer your question would be a really long comment, but basically, I am grateful for the time we had and I think it happened as it should. I think I have learned a few things from my past experience and I try to cherish each moment in that moment and distinguish when it’s best to let it exist as is and when to pursue it. More than anything, the last week made me believe in myself and in romance again. What else could I really ask?


  2. 4 wonky73 (@wonky73) August 23, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Every so often I get an urge to try and move to France. Just about the time that desire is at the highest one of the blogger I follow will post a more realistic portrayal of life in France. And the desire fades. Thank you 🙂


    • 5 paris (im)perfect August 24, 2012 at 12:11 am

      Haha. No problem! Glad I could help! At least you know from the title of the blog what you’re in for.

      Seriously, though: I’m grateful my life brought me here. But gosh darn it, it’s not the easiest place to live. And so realistic portrayals will continue – vomit and track work and fighting and all 😉


  3. 6 Amy Kortuem August 23, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Welcome back, Sion, to the bar and the bad tempers and the beauty of Paris, all of it. And welcome back here. I’ve missed your posts!

    And your teary goodbye and the beautiful thing he said to you during it made my heart clench for you…in a really good way!


  4. 8 Tanya in Transition August 24, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Ha! I read the post to D and he had to laugh at “les râleurs”. Oh, the French…they can make you feel so welcome, so at home.

    Beautiful words really. You already know that you’re all those things and more but it’s always nice to get confirmation, isn’t it? And you will find whatever you’re looking for. In the meantime, while you search, you’ll have great adventures — some highs, some lows — and wicked stories to write about. Can’t wait! Happy Friday chica and welcome back!


    • 9 paris (im)perfect August 24, 2012 at 11:40 am

      I’m glad D liked it, too. One thing I do like is that that French *know* they are raleurs! ; )

      And yes, thank you. I *do* know I’m all those things, but wow, it’s really nice to hear it. Thanks for the support as always. Adventures await!


  5. 10 Brocka August 24, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    I love how open & honest you are. These feelings and mantra will facilitate what is to come.


  6. 12 Adam August 24, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    I often fall out of love with Paris, especially in the summer. It happened again this year, but then I wandered around the city limits as night fell, took some photos of obscure stuff and felt right back at home again. There’s nothing wrong with being invisible in Paris!


    • 13 paris (im)perfect August 24, 2012 at 3:06 pm

      Haha. Yes, Adam. I love your take on invisible Paris. Invisible Paris greatly interests me, too. I just meant sometimes I don’t like feeling invisible as a *person* here! The beauty of Paris – and all her hidden nooks and crannies – are something I will never deny. Sometimes it just feels like a beauty you can’t touch, though. An unreciprocated love affair, if you will. It’s just nice to feel a city loves me back, which I feel in other places 🙂


  7. 14 Lady Jennie September 8, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Le pays des raleurs – yes.

    I hope you find your love one day (in the same city where you reside).


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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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