I am always playing devil's advocate with myself, I have an inner critic with a giant voice, and it has taken me a long time to decipher through her words and take the things I need to pay attention to and the rest, well that is when I must just tell her to be quiet.
When it comes to talking about Paris this critic pops to life, she questions my feelings, makes sure that I see the downsides too of a city with about 2.2 million people living in proximity. She wants to make sure that I see all the dangers, the pickpockets, the scammers, and all the things that if I listen to her long enough will make me feel like I can't go outside. So, I thank her for her words of warning, tell her I see those things, and remind her that I am a smart girl and manage my risks well. I then try to live my life these days by following my joy and joy this is what brings me back to Paris.
In July, I spent two wonderful weeks in France, I planned the trip so I would have a few days in Paris on either side of heading south for some time in Biarritz on the west coast and in Menton on the far eastern end of the riviera just before the border with Italy.
I would say that my first few days in Paris were a mix of jetlag recovery, a photoshoot, and processing through previous relationship sadness. I had anticipated this would show up being in a city that for me holds so many memories, some good and some not so much.
I followed my normal jetlag routine of lots of water, a warm shower, a one-hour nap, and then going about the day forcing myself to not go to bed until a normal bedtime in my new location.
The next morning, I was back to my normal self, and just in the nick of time, bright and early the amazing Henri Nuko (www.henrinuko.com) showed up at my hotel to do my make-up for a photoshoot. I have never had my make-up done before so it felt like a sweet luxury. Henri was amazing and ended up giving me tips along the way that I am still using in my make-up routine. Recommended, if you ever find yourself in Paris and need someone to do your make-up, he is a genius!
Then I was off to La Maison Rose on Rue de l'Abreuvoir to meet my amazing photographer Janelle of My Paris Portraits (www.myparisportraits.com). I had ordered a car on my G7 app on my phone, I set it up before I left the US so it would be super easy for me to always order a car if I needed from wherever I was in the city, especially for those times that you find yourself tired of walking and nowhere near a metro station.
For four hours Janelle took me to some of the best backdrops around Montmartre, Palais Royal, along the Seine, and finishing up on Pont Neuf. You will end up seeing some of those photos along the way, I am sure.
When we wrapped up around 1 pm, I was in a part of the city that I know very well so I just decided to head off in the direction of my hotel to change and drop all my photoshoot gear before heading out for lunch. Then I noticed a café that we had been to and then a restaurant and I was reminded of that time that we had walked through the Tuileries and along the Seine in a total downpour. I felt the weight begin to build in my chest, the sadness, it sat there like a heavy stone. I moved through the rest of that day slowly, carrying that stone and allowing the tears to flow when they came, somehow, I just knew that I needed to allow it to flow through me and that at some point it would run itself out.
The next day with my heavy stone I packed up for Biarritz. At Montparnasse train station, I cobbled together a lunch from the shops to go along with the protein shake that I had in my backpack and boarded the train. I love the European train system, going places is just easy. The TGV is clean, comfy, and has WIFI if you want to be connected, I didn't. I wanted to watch France through the window and take it all in and when I am tired of the window watching, a train is always a good place for me to nap, the hum just puts me right out. This was a train journey that we had been on before for our 10th wedding anniversary trip to a French Chateau near Bordeaux, the heavy stone grew larger. When we pulled into the beautiful Bordeaux train station the tears came and I let them, remembering how we played with taking photos to capture the marvel of the train station. How we had stood on that platform just two years earlier.
When the train left Bordeaux, finally, I felt the shift, the stone became a small rock then a pebble, and finally, it was gone. The seemingly endless river of tears that had been coming over the last 24 hours dried up and it occurred to me that this was now my new journey, the old journey was in the past, this part of the trip I had never done before, this is now my journey. I felt the shift in every level of my being, everything felt better, and I became lighter. Those were the last tears France saw from me.
When the train came to a stop just outside of the Bayonne station, I expected it to begin again shortly. The announcement came over the system, I could make out enough words that there was some blockage on the track at the Bayonne station, so we needed to wait. I could not make out some of the words that might have told me how long we would be.
I messaged the Airbnb host who was meeting me at the apartment, that I may be late. After 40 minutes I messaged again. She then sent me a text on WhatsApp to ask me if I was arrested. I read those words and thought, "Oh my god, how did she think that?" I had to laugh at the situation and the comedy of language learning. You see in French arrest means to stop. She was simply asking if I was still stopped. I was so glad that that dawned on me before I replied to her! "Oui, le train est arrêté," I replied. Yes, the train is stopped. Somehow my anglophone brain could not bring myself to type "Oui, Je suis arrête." Yes, I am stopped. Darn it, the train was on the hook for this delay.
Stay tuned, in my next few blogs I will tell you much more about my journey through France and what I discovered along the way. À bientôt. See you soon!