I made it to Paris with little incident, though my sleeve has a lot more snot on it than I would care to admit. I am currently sitting in the colorful lobby of my hostel (Le Montclair Hostel, if you’re curious), which has very American radio playing and chalkboard walls. My feet hurt, in a good way. I marched up and down the cobblestoned streets of Montmartre today, saw Sacre Coeur and the Moulin Rouge (the former full of breathtaking hymn-singing, the latter being completely anticlimactic and somewhat lame). At the highest point in the city, I searched the skyline for the Tower, but to no avail.
I feel pleased that so many people approached me with questions that they didn’t hesitate to pose in French, assumably because I look… awesome? No, I’m not interested in your tour package, and no, I don’t know where the Post is. But I will undoubtedly give you a winning smile, and if you’re really nice, I might even just be friends with you. Imagine that. Lucky you. (Please let’s be friends?)
My French comes and goes. I stutter trying to tell a baby punk that I don’t have a cigarette, but I slide into transactions with the cashier at the grocery store like soap on skin. I can get the gist of, if not understand, most things. I imagine that I am taking for granted being able to grasp the language of a foreign country, which I am sure I will promptly snap out of in, say, Italy.
So far, this feels very, um. Normal? Regular? Now that I’m here, across an ocean, in another country, on another continent, it doesn’t feel like such a big deal. Like the hugest hurdle was getting on the plane. After that it’s been cake. Dare I even say boring? No, I wouldn’t go that far, but, I’m trying to decide if it’s just jet lag that’s keeping me from moonwalking, or if it’s something else. Like the fact that Paris (so far) is incredibly similar to New York City except the people dress better, smoke more, and talk in beautiful noises. At almost every other point in my life when I am somewhere foreign, I find great joy in being alone and deep awe in witnessing a new place gurgle in front of me, but I don’t feel either of those things now, really. I have greatly anticipated the novelty of traveling to wear off at some point, which is why I have made a point of being as open as my little brain is able to any and all experiences, opportunities, work, and challenges. I just didn’t expect that to be the case on day one. BUT. I’m perfectly willing to concede that perhaps it’s just because I had a Nutella crepe for dinner. (Or, more realistically, that I think cities are second best and gee wiz, I miss you.)
Thing I like the most so far: Kids. Speaking. French. It’s paralyzingly cute.
Thing I like the least so far: Being alone. I require a pretty significant amount of alone time in order to be a decent human, but right after I’ve gotten too much of it, weird things start happening. I’m looking forward to the point when I learn why traveling solo is such a good idea. In the meantime, I think I’m going to Versailles tomorrow with my four mechanical engineer student roommates, and then I’ve got a date to stay with a writer/teacher named Fanny – go figure – over the weekend. Sweet.
I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to ditch this Tourist Only title pretty quick. Lack of occupation doesn’t suit me.
And just so you know, I intentionally overpacked. Really. I’ll be home with the biggest legs you thought you could see on a chicken. In other news, heads up for a Tiffany Stuff care package, America.
I’m gonna go watch a movie and eat prunes. My room smells like summer camp.
I love you, I really do. Thanks for everything so far. Here we go.