The last full day in Paris is bittersweet. Even after this short period of time, I feel like this little apartment is a home. At the top of the stairs, I find this dorm-sized room more comforting than any place I’ve stayed in years. Living here would be easy, I think. In six months, I would have some solid conversational skills. In eight? Surely almost fluent. A year? More? I’ll be like Gertrude Stein and run one of the hottest salons in the city.
We start the day earlier than ever. I think I finally adjusted to this time zone, go figure. After a cup of strong English tea, we take the metro over to the Bastille, only to be met with serious scaffolding. Seems like everything is getting a face lift right now. Makes sense considering how old as shit it all is.
Wandering around, I came to terms with my breakup and moved into the anger stage of grief, which was of endless amusement to Lisa. I say “fuck” a lot when I’m mad. I started to feel like myself again, not this pitiable creature that blames itself for everything. Rock on. To celebrate, we went shoe shopping, because I’m nothing if not an occasional stereotype.
I know this might come across as boring, but I must admit that shopping is a real treat in Paris. There are these fundamental differences between American and French sales, hereby meaning that the French don’t think the customer is always right; and yet, I felt more catered to in a discount shoe store than in any upscale business in the States. Despite the language barrier and my abysmal pronunciation of French numbers, I came away from the exchange with two beautiful pairs of leather (yes, real leather) Oxfords for less than $100USD.
After we dropped off the booty, Lisa and I really Frenched it up. We went all the way down to the Eiffel Tower with the 5,000 or so people doing the same thing. Okay, maybe 10,000. It was interesting to walk by all these vendors that are obviously pandering to tourists, but they did offer some good wares. Lisa got some French soap and lavender for a great price. The postcards outside in these little shops were way more reasonable than inside the monuments. Man, I wasted so many euros.
There’s a giant fence around the Eiffel Tower, some serious checkpoints, and a line four miles long. We wait for forty minutes just to go through security. Once we’re through and underneath the iron, we quickly realize that we’ll be in line for almost two more hours to go up and take our photos.
It is here the Summer of Yes gives way to the Autumn of Fuck Off.
These last few months have been dedicated to getting me out of my comfort zone and saying yes to my youth. With that I have discovered quite a few things about myself, including the fact that I often blame myself for things outside my control. Today I say, “Fuck off,” to that. When I realized that the line was too long, I didn’t hold my tongue and take my spot; no, I told Lisa what I wanted, asked her opinion, and then we left to buy cheaper postcards, filter-less cigars, and enough alcohol to get us tipsy before supper. It was a lot more fun than standing around with a bunch sunburnt babies and their overly tired parents.
As we sat sipping on spritz after spritz, I got an email from the restaurant I booked weeks in advance. We decided whether or not to go, debating our tiredness and willingness to spend a lot on dinner. Ultimately, it’s our last night in Paris, so we go. God, am I glad we did. The place was small, seating no more than 20. The restaurant filled quickly and had a good deal of camaraderie with people talking over tables and asking about plates. We order the side of beef for two, not expecting the sheer amount of food it was. The side of beef was surely meant for a small family. It was up to me to not a let a bit of that finely cooked meat go to waste. When we left a full five pounds heavier, we said goodbye to our companions, thanked the chefs, and walked home.
What a stark contrast that night was in comparison to the hell that was the flight home. Late takeoff, screaming children, a little vomit, and a broken pen. I won’t dwell on that as it is a waste of my time and energy. Looking over my journal from the last day, I find myself inspired:
“Going forward, I will seize my life. You want to be a writer? Be a fucking writer. You want to move to Boston? Move to fucking Boston. Stop being lukewarm and get on fire. Paris taught you about your mettle. Don’t let that lesson go to waste. Be a splendor.”