Paris was like a dream. When I got back, it almost felt like it didn’t happen. It passed so quickly and also so slowly. We ate, we laughed, we walked. We walked up a lot of fucking stairs.
We had several lunches on the Seine, but one really sticks out to me. We bought small bottles of wine and a crepe and a sandwich, headed to sit on a dock and take off our sweaters because the sun was burning. The sounds of Paris filtered down from above. We could see the tops of buildings, architecture stunning and calming, the murmurs of other French picnic-ers nearby. We ate and drank and discussed whether we want children. We talked about past and current loves and how they’ve shaped our lives. We talked about the very scary future.
We ordered wine at dinner. We had duck leg with meat that fell off the bone, salads with perfect, mustardy dressing. We tried sea snails once. Brioche french toast left me so full that there was one bite I could not finish. Scallops, grilled to perfection, over a bed of mushrooms is a meal I would like to relive over and over. The best cut of pork I’ve ever eaten. Katie looked at me and said, once, “I’d rather eat foie gras than have a thigh gap,” and I wholeheartedly agree.
On our literary night, we ate at Le Procope—where Voltaire and Jean de la Fontaine once dined. Thomas Jefferson, too, and a myriad of other famous writers and people. We had veal and wine. Afterward, we went to rue Mouffetard, a little touristy but still literary. We had chartreuse and absinthe in true writer style, and we found a church. THE church. The church where Owen Wilson is picked up and taken to the 20s in the movie Midnight in Paris. We watched our phones click over to midnight. We weren’t whisked off to the past, but the night was magical in its own way.
We went to museums and monuments and soaked in the city. The stone wrought balconies, the beautiful architecture, the old buildings and churches. Everything is so old—it felt novel to see things built so many years ago that I cannot comprehend what life was like then. We went into the archaeological crypts and saw the Roman ruins of Lutecia, the city that Paris was before it was Paris. We toured Museé Cluny, a medieval museum, and saw stunning Roman baths and medieval tapestries (including the best booty we have ever seen). We ventured into the catacombes and were surrounded by bones. Morbid and fascinating. I was, largely, in awe of the city.
Paris was the perfect respite from life. It was full of everything delicious, from food to architecture to language to friendship. The lights at night and the sky during the day. The joy of sharing the experience.
Did it cure the burnout and depression? Did it give me the inspiration that I need? I don’t know yet. Perhaps. Either way, I’ve returned to real life (with a bit of a struggle) understanding more. Understanding myself a bit better. Knowing a few more things about my future, even if those things are only questions I need to answer.
Travel is so freeing. Not every moment was wonderful. I injured my foot and limped for most of the trip. I felt really sick one night (too much unpasteurized cheese?). But I learned and gained perspective.
So, your turn—what have you learned from travel?