I never thought I’d make it to France. Even as the leaving date grew closer, it didn’t seem like I was actually going to get on a plane and leave the country. When Dad drove me to the airport, it didn’t seem real. When I got my boarding pass, it didn’t seem real. When I had to get a pat down because the metal detector thought I was packing some heat, it didn’t seem real. When I got on the plane, it didn’t seem real. When I landed, it didn’t seem real. But when I was waiting in a kilometer long customs line? You bet your ass it was real then.
Never in my life has anything gone right the first time. I’m not one of those blessed creatures where doors open, lines shorten, and people move out of the way by the sheer nature of my birth. Life is hard. Shit happens. Often.
My travelling companion accidentally booked a flight for tomorrow, a fact we both discovered as I was boarding the plane. I shook it off, knowing that I am a capable human being at this point in my life. Miraculously, I had a whole row of seats to myself, a good in-flight meal, and a few glasses of wine. While sleep is not easy on a plane, I got enough to get me through customs, the CDG airport, luggage claim, getting a train pass, taking a horrible (seriously cannot stress this enough) tiny photo, and an express train to Paris (but only after being shooed off another train by a very helpful old Frenchman who told me that the express would take much less time).
After standing for 45 minutes, I arrived in a metro station, hopping trains, and finally arrived to the Arc de Triomphe stop. But oh wait, there’s more. Much like groundhog emerging from its winter slumber (I have no idea if that’s true), I had to basically dig my way to the surface, following sign after sign that said, “Sortie.” At last, though, there it was: a postcard of Paris.
I teared up, took a snap, and then headed towards the Air BnB after grabbing a quick lunch. Only, there was no Air BnB to be had. After trying to repeatedly plug in the door code that I had been sent, a very angry man rounded the corner started shouting at me in French. Now, I consider myself pretty fluent in spoken French, but never in my life has anyone ever spoken that quickly to me.
Before I even know what’s going on or can fully explain my situation, there’s a police officer being pulled into our conversation. The angry man explains his side of the story that the officer is kind enough to translate: “He says you are trying to break in, that you are trying to guess the code. He says you should be arrested.” The officer looks at my bag, me, and then back at the angry man. It’s amazing he didn’t roll his eyes.
Thankful for an English speaker, I tell him what I know: I have this address, this code, and this name. Turns out, the address is right but everything else is wrong. Well, shit fire. Now, I catastrophize, and I’m thinking that I’ve been left drifting in the wind. I refuse to be discouraged. This is the Summer of Yes and I’m so tired of being an anxiety-riddled buzzkill. With some quick investigation, I realize I’m on the wrong side of the city. Humble as some sort of appropriate simile, I take my leave.
An hour and a half later, I at last arrived to my flat at the top of the stairs and promptly fell into bed. My home for the next ten days. It’s small and comfortable with two beds, a tub, a table, and an stove top that’s basically a glorified hot plate. There’s a cafe right outside the gate. It’s raining tonight and I’ll sleep with the windows open. Today was not a standing ovation of a day, but tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow I will go to the Louvre. Tomorrow Lisa will be here. Tomorrow I will drink some strong coffee. Tomorrow I will look fierce as hell. Tomorrow will be great.