In Paris, John-Scott says, “We are all here, just waiting for you,” like he knows I need that little bit of reassurance, and I do.
I’m on the plane now, waiting for takeoff and, though I’ve been flying by myself since I was 12 years old, the miracle of flight still shakes me. Fierce, solo traveler–I wish. A nervous, unorganized wreck–often. But, through this vacation and more time alone, I’m learning to accept myself as I am–an obstinate night owl, at-the-last-minute, hair disheveled type.
In order to get through this life, you have to trust. Trust the captain not to crash your plane, trust those you love not to hurt you, trust yourself and your unique journey, and trust that death won’t take you until you’ve lived just enough.
On the way to Paris, we fly into the sunset and the rush of colors warms me. What is the desire to sit on clouds-to lay your head down on an entire sky filled with comfort? Why do I still want and hope to do this, though I know it’s impossible? It’s overwhelming, this urge, this prospect of being a god operating outside the world’s limits.
Three planes fly below us and it looks like they might crash if they’re not careful. But, they don’t, of course, because sometimes things just work the way they’re supposed to. We are arriving in Paris now–an almost 2 hour flight–and I haven’t bitten my nails, checked my pulse, reviewed the safety manual, or thought once of dying. Progress.
Lauren, Colin, and John-Scott meet me for a welcome drink and we four old Atlantans kick off the heartiest of reunions. Lauren and Colin have been on the road, wwoofing their way through Europe on organic farms. John-Scott’s been in Paris finishing his master’s degree. And I’ve been teaching in the Czech Republic. There’s much catching up to do.
Half asleep and not yet acclimated to my French surroundings, I say bonsoir to Marie the next morning while she is leaving for the south of France. At John-Scott’s flat, we rouse slowly and spend the afternoon refilling each other’s beers. It feels good to be around Atlantans, speaking fast, using slang–being understood in my entirety. An image of John-Scott: smoking a cigarette by the window, looking suave, French, content. There is always something to say among us. Cheap wine is in the forecast. And picnics. The theme of our Parisian stay reveals itself: Vive la Fête!
Three days with John-Scott float by on the wings of a mood that is tipsy and celebratory. Walking around the city, we are never without a bottle of red wine or a something to talk about. JS and I reminisce on shared memories that are still so important to both of us. We talk about literature and how certain authors inspire us to produce creatively, how life used to feel so grand. We both miss writing and poetry. A longing for simpler times, deeper connections, eternal moments.
On the streets of Paris, we pass grunge and debris and it allows for an openness. Nothing is perfect in this city and neither are we. We are honest and raw and vulnerable with each other, sharing ourselves.
It doesn’t bother me that my time in Paris is usually spent in the same way. At La Plage, we listen to music, drink expensive beers, converse with John-Scott’s friends, and dance to Outkast with our feet in the sand. We brave Le Bal des Pompiers–a raging, testosterone-fueled dance party thrown by Paris’s finest firefighters. We watch fireworks pour out around the Eiffel Tower for Bastille Day. We lie in parks, eat falafel, drink wine on the Seine and loaf around museums, squeezing as much as we can into the day. At night, we play cards and wait for the sun to rise. Paris, though some will argue is a place of tension and stress, is where I go to rest. It’s my favorite stopping point in between a long journey or transition, and it will always feel special. Here I feel wild, alive, and uninhibited.