I’m sitting in luxuriously cozy pajamas staring blankly at a vast, Parisian skyline and wondering what the hell to write about. It seems interesting that I am here but the things I’m doing and the thoughts I’m thinking, so far, aren’t unique in the slightest. I’m a collector of blogs and I’m often on the hunt for another writer who is processing her thoughts of the world in a public, written expression. One thing most of us bloggers have in common is we’re hopelessly normal and we all have the nerve to think that what each of us is doing is of note. There are a few exceptions, of course. But for the most part I’m saturated with the words of people just like me who write dumb things without checking their own entitlement before typing some quote about how important it is to travel.
Now here I am staring helplessly at my own personal view of a romantic, inspiring skyline and I’m thinking about what’s worth telling you about. This experience has been, so far, exactly as you’d expect. There’s the comical clash of cultures and the learning to use the metro. There’s the attempts at using my rusty French and the occasional merciful stranger who helps me get through a sticky situation. There’s the jet lag, the food, the miles and miles of walking. I bought shampoo and I hate this shower. I get overwhelmed at being so vulnerable and amateurish and then I retreat into my apartment until I’m brave enough to go back out and order another croissant. It takes me twenty minutes of practicing a sentence in my head over and over before I use it. And then someone understands me (hopefully) and I celebrate and it’s all exciting. Nothing is all that interesting for a solo trip abroad of a young woman who kinda speaks French. I miss the dog and I’m morbidly aware of how fleeting this all is.
I’m gloriously boring. I spend the bulk of my time designing a website that may or may not get launched in February. Ironically, the project began around the same time I purchased the tickets for this trip, back in July 2018. The work is speeding up and I’m finally getting to the fun bits. If I didn’t feel like I was behind on a personal blog post, I’d be over on that website working on it, instead. The other day I woke up, worked on the new website, walked to a cafe, worked on the website, walked to another cafe, worked on the website, then came home. I made sure I was walking past pretty things or at least going to cafes that were highly recommended by friends who wanted to help point me in the right direction. Some may say I’m wasting my time but honestly, it’s a friggin month and you can’t really expect me to rush off to museums during all of my waking hours.
Polite inquisitors frequently asked what I was most excited about for this trip and the honest answer was the sitting. I was looking forward to doing exactly what I have been doing: camping in cafes for hours on end, sipping cappuccinos and building some website that I may or may not abandon when I return. I’ve been to several different touristy sites but I’m mostly just parked on various chairs and couches, on the hunt for WiFi signals.
What I want most is to type furiously at my computer with ambient noise in the background and forget about what day it is, what time it is, what assignment is due tomorrow, and what my work schedule is like in the morning. But that’s a fairly uninteresting thing to talk about, and here I am talking about it anyway. I’m supposed to talk about how eye-opening this is and how you really should “just book the ticket.” I’m supposed to tell you that the French have it all figured out and American exceptionalism is just so gross. But I think we have enough of that, don’t you? I’m privileged, educated, white, and I have parents who can wire me money in extreme cases of emergency (though they’re thankful my bartending tips got me this far). Not everyone can just book the ticket. Also, yes, not everywhere is like home. Forgive me for being a little uninspired by that marvel idea.
I can’t tell you about the novel experiences I’m having because they really aren’t that novel. I’m learning about myself and the world. Traveling by oneself is simultaneously rewarding and lonely. We all get it.
There’s a shadow of a thought that I really ought to be job hunting, or soul-searching, or taking steps to return to life in Montgomery with my shiny new Master’s degree. Or, at the very least, I should go to a museum. I expect I’ll get to those things eventually, but for now I’m releasing the pressure of expectations back in my “normal” life and I’m just being. And to just be is a wonderful thing.
It’s a little boring and it isn’t any degree of groundbreaking.
But here we are.