Pas De Souci, or no worries has been the motto in my day-and-a-half life in France. That’s what life should be all about anyway, right? Or so we think. Often times, we begin to embark on our purpose, yet someway somehow we are inundated with imminent happenings in life. And because, we are taught to believe in happiness, rather than a pursuit of it, we are disappointed frequently. And because, we, or more so I, forget although one can be optimistic, we must learn the remedy that acceptance can bring in our journeys. And today, as I’m sitting in my friend’s petit appartement en France, I am reflecting on how I’ve been doing this whole thing wrong. Yes, wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve gotten a lot of things right in life. I’ve made plenty of great choices and my everyday walk is proof and result of my effort and the belief that others have had in little ol’ me — however, I imagine, if in this wonderfully chaotic life that we are given, among the beautiful monsters that we meet, and the most exhilarating stale places that we go, that life is certainly just that. A little bit of this, and a little bit of that. Voila! Alors, pas de souci. So, don’t worry. You’ll get it, you’ll get there. And I am, and I have.
With just short of 48 hours of my time in France, my eyes have been reminded of the childlike joys of seeing something new – to have an urge to touch, to smell, and even with strong characteristics of a picky eater, to taste, all of it. I am impressed with the French’s desire to preserve history. There’s only a few skyscrapers in France, let alone Paris. One of them, Montparnasse stands tall right out of one of the metro stations that I traveled from. Of course, I took a picture of it, but I’m sure residents of Paris find it so drab, just another commonplace structure, almost unnecessary. And when I turned my head I saw a glimpse of the Tour De Eiffel. *Sighs* …even with a simple glance I was taken to a breathtaking place signifying that I made it. Part of me wanted to rush to see it, but another part of me, said pas de souci. You’ll get there. And when you do, it’ll be the right time and place. The last thing I want to do is rush the journey.
Alors, I enjoyed my la grasse matinée, or long morning of sleep. I mean, I deserved it. Being that this has been my longest journey, second to my trip to the mountains and lights of Vegas, I needed it. I am truly a grump without a good night’s sleep, sometimes a zombie for that matter. I was overcome with jet lag and even after landing in Charles De Gaulle or Roissy, I had to prepare my body for long travel. And of course, I did not pack lightly. I made sure that I fit everything I needed in my huge bag and carry on, and I needed a lot ;) Although my stay in Europe will not be long and only short of 10 days, a woman must have her options! I even had to do an hour of contemplating in my room before I left, finally deciding to put away my running shoes, which would give me a couple more pounds for more fashionable options. And without much lament, I happily decreased the four pairs of jeans that I packed to two, and put in twice as many skirts into the pile.
On my first flight to Iceland, I sat in a youthful row on the plane. One of my neighbors, a young girl attending Brown University, beginning her study abroad experience, was heading to Paris as well. The other person in our row, a young basketball player preparing for his time abroad in Iceland to play professional ball was super nervous and wasn’t scared to express it. It wasn’t his first time flying in general, but it was his first time flying overseas. He made sure to take advantage of every last minute that he had to make his final goodbye calls. Both of them, whether they knew it, made me smile. Both of them, probably just a few years younger than me, being courageous. Going for it, living their dreams. It reassured me that what I was doing was right. Sure, I could have used my vacation time during the normal holiday season, and even squeezed in a trip to New York or something like that, but I just knew in my heart that this journey was waiting for me.
Most of the time, we’re waiting for opportunities to come to us, but sometimes, we don’t even know it but our purposeful pilgrimages are calling out for us. Wow, life really is good. And finally, when the call was made, I was ready. See, that’s the thing. We must wait until we’re ready to get the most out of treks and desires. Having finally made it to Iceland, I realized that my feet no longer stood on American soil. My passport was stamped and it was official, I was out. I took the window seat to Paris and sat next to a lovely French couple. I bothered them once at the cause of my light bladder and followed their suit by enjoying a great nap. We made it to Roissy having endured one of the smoothest flights ever or maybe that was because I was sleeping. Either way, God truly wrapped me in His loving arms while I sat in the sky.
Bienvenue à Paris, read many signs. I smiled at each one. I truly felt welcome. It was almost like they knew I was coming. I know that sounds corny, but as I looked around, as stated this was meant to be. I was greeted with two French kisses on the cheek by mon ami, Marco – my friend from URI who is now teaching English to high school students in France. It was great to just see him! And to see him, going for it, living his dream. I was certainly proud. I was also happy to have his helping hand. One of my luggage bags just met the under 50 lb. requirement, so you can imagine how significant his support was. We jumped on the airport shuttle and my ears were open to the Francophone language. Everyone was speaking a different language – duh, Tyrene. But to hear it, all the time, truly is exactly what it is, different. And interesting, because I know some of it.
After taking le metro into the city which brought us to real Paris, we made our way to Montparnasse, and then found our way to the SNCF le gare or station. Marco lives about an hour out of Paris in Chartres, which I would say is comparable to Providence, if Boston is Paris. It’s lovely here. When I look around I am amazed at the tiniest of things like the cobblestones on the ground, or the signs on the streets, and even noticing that the highest structures are steeples of cathedrals.
I’ve made some use of my little French knowledge and have been sure to say, bonjour at every opportunity. I frequently used, salut but Marco gave me a friendly reminder that should only be used with friends, not strangers. Oops. I’ve been put into awkwardly funny situations, where a cashier at a grocery store tried to engage in conversation with me. Thankfully, Marco was there to interject after I politely said, je ne comprends pas. — Brésilienne?, she asked. Non, je suis américaine, I responded. It’s funny, because I even find myself purposefully getting in the way of others, just so I can say, pardon, s’il vous plaît! And my manners are certainly up to par, as I always end my sentences with merci or de rien. Today, I ordered some sweets on my own at a café, “chocolat maison et aussi le week-end citron et un cookie.” Hot chocolate, lemon cake, and a cookie; it was delicious and the café we went to was cute. I met some of Marco’s acquaintances from son travaille or his work at school and got insight on their French experience.
Tomorrow, I will begin my real Parisian experience. I’ll spend a good day in Paris and then I’ll prepare myself for the rest of the weekend in London. I’m looking forward to taking the Eurostar or high speed rail into the centre of London. Hopefully my breath isn’t taken away from the currency exchanges and prices there! We’ll see.
Anyway, remember, pas de souci! Don’t worry. You’ll get there, when you’re ready. And when you do, go for it!
See more of my pictures, on my ‘Dream of Paris’ page, Rêve De Paris.