I finally come to terms with my self-inflicted solitude over a tartlette citron (which I'm pretty sure that I'm supposed to eat with a fork, but there's none to be had, and I'm a dirty American tourist so who really cares) and five fresh manuscript pages. Both of them are so good that I say, "Fuck you" out loud. No one is around to be embarrassed. Something about that is freeing. And when I inevitably get lost without my GPS and wind up stomping up and down an avenue I can't pronounce with no one to witness both my failure and my triumph? There's something freeing about that, too.
I start the day later than expected, but this is understandable when one considers the night full of fun and pho (another shout out to Victoria and her patience with me and my glorious introduction to picone beer). My hair is at peak fluffiness, I'm feeling strangely energized, I'm optimistic about what the day will bring. Then again, I feel this way a lot and sometimes wind up being nearly arrested, or lost on a train, or drop my food on the floor, or I'm accused of being a "snitch" by some rando on the street (I'm still highly offended by this bold claim. Mama didn't raise no snitch). Perhaps today really will be a good day. Or better yet: Today will be as good as I make it. Optimism is the secret to all good things in this life. Where better to be optimistic than in the City of Lights?
I love it when things work out. A few days ago a German woman and I made tentative plans to travel to Versailles together, but I didn't think we would actually follow through because that's what people do in this day and age. This morning: I wake up far too early for a hostel breakfast so we won't have to fistfight our way through the tour group crowds when we get to the palace. The hope is to have an issue-free journey, unlike the last time where somebody had a meltdown in the metro and needed to call a Lyft (it's me, I was the baby. Sorry, Lisa). But with beautiful crisp weather like this, what could possibly go wrong?
Today begins with success: waking up at a reasonable hour. While it takes a full thirty minutes to get out of bed, I still make it down to the lobby by 8. I go ahead and bite the bullet and buy breakfast (coffee, fresh orange juice, pain au chocolat, and as much bread and jam as I can eat), but only because I want to squirrel away some food to prevent myself from completely Hulking out later this afternoon. In hindsight, this may be the best decision I make all trip.
The day again starts abnormally late, even after several extra hours of sleep. I meet a German at breakfast, Victoria. She's a virology student in Vienna. We make tentative plans to go to Versailles together later this week. We'll see if it works out. Sometimes things don't go the way you think they're going to. For instance: My intention is to go to the Louvre this morning, but the line is so long that I say, "Fuck that" out loud and mosey down to the Museum of Decorative Arts, which is uncrowded and quiet. Sometimes you have to change plans for the sake of sanity.
One of the things they don't tell you about international travel: You should not drink most of a bottle of white wine after an 8-hour flight because you are very dehydrated and haven't eaten all day. But they don't tell you, so you drink the wine and go to bed then wake up a few hours later in so much pain that you have to squeeze your body out onto the hostel's bathroom balcony for some cold air. You get sick all night. You listen to meditation videos on YouTube to get some sleep. You don't wake up until 11 the next morning to drink your weight in water, orange juice, and coffee. You decide that's okay and get out of the lobby before you waste the rest of your first full day in Paris.
The journey to the airport isn't as dramatic as I expect it to be, which is disconcerting. My big ass backpack and I catch all of the trains and buses right on time. Even after waiting for an hour in the bunched mass that is the Primera Air check-in line, getting through an extra handsy security checkpoint, and eating an overpriced chicken sandwich, everything was fine. In less than 12 hours, I'll be back in Paris. I can do whatever I want to do. Anything. Nothing. I'm my own master.
We will begin by saying that I don't want to go to Paris. It's for a lot of reasons, both practical and anxiety-related. Why am I afraid? Ultimately, I don't want to go alone. I don't want to be without distraction from my thoughts. I don't want to be my only source of satisfaction. But, in order for me to grow both as a person and as an independent woman in this day and age, I can't be afraid to leave my comfort zone. The last time I was in Paris, I really bossed up, and I fully intend on doing it again. Buckle up, kids.
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.
Today was the sort of day where you leave the past where it belongs. I took a hard look in the mirror and said, "Bailey, it's time to be a grown ass woman." Where better to do that than a cemetery? A thousand other places, but we work with what we've got.