Dropping everything and running away to Europe for one month: 10/10. Highly recommend. I got back two nights ago and am feeling all sorts of rosy, honeymoon-style feelings about returning to Life™. Familiar faces, dog-wrestling, and readjustment abounds.
Technically, I was gone for a total of five weeks. I left a week ahead of The Great Escape to spend Christmas with my family in Los Angeles, and it was there I boarded a plane to Paris, where I camped out for four weeks. I spent nearly all my time within the city, save for a night in Belgium and two in the Netherlands. Holy crap, I love Europe.
The ample time relieved me of any pressure to get to all the must-sees as fast as possible. I was able to explore and discover at my own pace, which was incredibly slow. I didn’t get to a great many of the tourist places. Not because of intentional protest, but because I kind of didn’t care. Oh, the humanity! Instead, my time (well, half of it, anyway) was spent on my computer.
Yup, I said it. I was in Paris for a month and was glued to my computer. It was glorious. I actively made the decision to spend half my day hiding from the world typing furiously at my computer, and the other half trying something new. The “hiding” half meant being productive on my laptop, either in my apartment or in a cafe. The “discover something new” half meant anything that required effort and learning. Museums, restaurants, or long walks through beautiful new districts were all fair game.
My daily balance worked perfectly. It helped mitigate the chances of feeling overwhelmed by sensory overload (a single full day is of excitement is fine, but thirty consecutive days? No, thank you). The discipline of forcing myself to go try something new also prevented me from devolving into a total hermit’s lifestyle. It is so easy for me to both get caught up in the excitement and wear myself out, but also to hide for such lengths of time that loved ones start performing wellness checks.
During the “new” part of my day I visited churches and museums and gardens. I walked for miles and miles. I spoke French (mostly incomprehensibly). I challenged myself to use new words or phrases but was secretly relieved when a server spoke English. I ate new foods. Chicken liver! Monkfish cheek! Rillettes de saumon! THESE THINGS ARE AMAZING AND NEED TO BE IN MY MOUTH ALL THE TIME.
During the “stare-at-my-computer-until-my-butt-feels-numb” part of the day I built a website from the ground up, start to finish. I tried blogging for Red Pointe Shoe, but little of what I managed to write felt like I was doing my experience justice. I have a much clearer perspective on how it all went down now that I’m back, and the reverse was true while I was there. I designed a website celebrating Montgomery, because damn, it’s a city worth lovin’. This website has been a dream of mine for years and I just haven’t had the right moment to get it done. It’s now done. You can see it at MontgomeryMarauder.com and everything. Bonus points if you also Like the Facebook page.
The ill-defined goals I set for myself before my departure were ignored in their entirety, which I don’t feel a moment’s guilt about. I did not go for a single run. I did not study for the Foreign Service Officers Test. No sir, not me. I learned the best way to eat moldy cheese (with honey, on a fresh baguette) and allowed myself the grace of flexible planning instead.
During Week 3 I went to Belgium and the Netherlands where I drank beer and laughed with people I love. My self-ascribed pace of “hide and explore” was paused while I enjoyed the best company and walked through clouds of pot smoke in Amsterdam.
My final days there were apathetic. I did not feel any eagerness to get home nor did I feel any desperation to squeeze the last of Paris into my experience. A return to “normal” was just what was going to happen, and that was that. I had a cold and therefore no energy to get out and see the things I never got to. I bought gifts and a suitcase to hold them all. It took 32 hours to get home.
Montgomery re-entered my life on Saturday afternoon. I got home, loved on the dogs, took a shower, and went to El Rey for dinner. Today I camped out at Prevail. Tomorrow I go back to work.
I am ready to be back and I am ready to go back. And, I missed you. Come say hi.