I have a first to add to the list from the other day:
Meet up with a friend in Paris for coffee
Meet up with a friend in Paris for dinner.
Can I just say, those two are my favorite firsts from yesterday? I can’t tell you how much I love that.
Meinhart has estimated that I walked at least 6km Tuesday. Oh yeah, these Docs were made for walkin’ and that’s just what I’ll do... Paris, yesterday these Doc Martin’s got to walk all over you. Bum-ba-dum, bum-ba-dum, bum-ba-dum, bum-ba-dum... Start walkin’ Docs. I am so sore. Probably not just from walking, I’m sure it has a little bit to do with my fall out of McDonald’s yesterday. I missed a step and crashed onto the side walk with a very unlady like “umph” and a thud. On the Champs-Elysées. In front of loads of people. Not sure what they were looking at, they were French people going into McDonald’s! That’s kind of embarrassing too I’d think. When asked if I was ok I responded in French that I was. Bad enough to be the pregnant lady that fell out of McDonald’s, would only be worse if I was the American pregnant lady that fell out of McDonad’s on the Champs-Elysées. Jeremy was very amused at me passing myself off as French in that moment.
So I’ve discovered something about myself. Though I kissed my husband in front of the Arche de Triomphe, meandered down the Champs-Elysées, visited the opera house (and cried), hit a few touristy shops, smiled like a fool every time I saw the Effiel Tower, strolled along the Seine arm in arm with Jeremy like a romantic sap (at least I didn’t start singing and dancing pretending I was in An American in Paris though the thought did cross my mind), etc. ad nauseum Tuesday, I realized something pretty early on. I was having a hard time with it all. Not the people, not the language, not the Metro, not the walking, not even the obvious scam attempt we encountered but rather the idea that this somehow was Paris. Seeing the sights is beautiful but in the end it just isn’t my thing. Here it is, you ready? I really didn’t care about any of it. Well, ok, I did care about the Eiffel Tower because that was evidence that I was really in Paris and I cared about the Opera House because once upon a time I thought the first time I’d see it would be because I was singing there but those two things aside, I simply wasn’t awed by the sights. Don’t get me wrong, it is all beautiful and the French have a lot of history and beauty in their capitol to be proud of but for me, it isn’t why I’m here. I want to experience this amazing city and the country she belongs to for her people, not her food, architecture, and cute little shops. My favorite moment was when we were led off the beaten path by Jeremy’s childhood friend, Sylvian, and ended up in an amazing little joint for dinner. By the time we were leaving there was a line outside to get in, all locals, all real, normal people. The food was delicious, the noise comforting and the company obviously not there to make a euro off of us. Refreshing. It was then that I really felt like we were starting to see the city. Like the glimpses we caught in the Metro early that morning. Jeremy’s superb French makes it easier for us to blend in which helps us get a taste of the people beyond being American tourists. The thing is, I want to see the part of France that isn’t on the post cards. I want to understand the people not just the history and architecture. And I want to love them, know them, to share life with them. Obviously, doing that in just two weeks is going to be difficult but that’s why we’re here, to make plans for coming back to stay and do just that. We have no desire to “save” them or anyone else, couldn’t do that even if we wanted to but rather a desire to love and encourage them. A heart to share life with them and encourage dialogue about faith and the “what if there is more?” question. Because, like looking at fantastic buildings and monuments doesn’t really mean one has experienced Paris, living life with never asking or wondering about those questions and having safe places to discuss them, isn’t really living at all. That’s why we’re here, that’s why we want to return. Life. Vive la France!