What Paris Taught Me

I wrote this a year ago right after I returned from Paris and never got around to sharing it.  I never got around to a lot of things I learned there and meant to do when I got back - but I'm getting around to them now.  Maybe it's the bittersweet nostalgia that has taken hold, reminding me that big trips, big moments, big events are often far apart, but I have full control over what happens day to day.  So here are my words from June 14, 2016.

I recently returned from an 8 day trip to Paris which included a 5 day writing retreat with a small group of women.  It would be easy to write about how magical Paris was (true), how the sun dazzled off the 15th century architecture (it did), how both the women and men appeared effortlessly fashionable (also true) but there were also moments of doubt, saddness and fea.  My instagram photos - save one - show only the glory and perfection that I wanted to share.  They don't show mean breaking down one afternoon because I couldn't find stamps, or staying up all night at the miniscule Air BnB thinking I had a UTI, or sitting on the window ledge of Louis Voutain trying to Google Voice call my husband in tears.  There was some crap in there for sure.  The thing is, neither the perceived perfection by others or the perceived crap by me really matter.  What matters is what I learned:

  • That I love language and am willing to step through my fear of imperfection to try it out.
  • That I am resilient and can make an action plan out of the aforementioned crap.
  • That it's ok to have a good cry and call your husband [best friend, mom, enter needed person here] back in the states, waking them up at 4am.
  • Stepping out of my comfort zone makes the best stories (hammam anyone?).
  • Slowing down allows me to notice the most incredible details - the arbor of roses framing Notre Dame and their lingering smell throughout the city.
  • Two hour leisurely lunches with new girlfriends is the best therapy.
  • Champagne makes and ordinary day something to celebrate.
  • How Parisians savor the details of life - flowers in the market, red lipstick, black stockings, fresh pastries, a cup of coffee lingered at a table.
  • That there's something slightly trashy/classy about drinking mini bottles of rose in the Tulleries.
  • Small luxuries - heated towel racks, the bursting flavor of macaroons, afternoon naps - can't be beat.
  • There are amazing women out there full of fun and stories and life.

Only a few days back and I'm already sliding back into my American habits of multi-tasking and rushing through my day with too much Facebook and not enough time walking outside.  But I am wearing a lovely French perfume and I'm committed so far to my writing practice, so maybe some Frenchness will stick with me after all.

Back in 2017 - tomorrow is my birthday and I intend to wear that French perfume, take the time to put on something pretty, and maybe drink my coffee at the table, while watching the world.  One thing at a time.  More pausing and less fear.