Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Imagining la vie Parisienne

It feels like I just said goodbye to London briefly, and now I'm doing it yet again. I don't think I thought this through properly.

When I came to the UK, I had every intention of leaving every weekend. I'll get my fill of London during the weekdays, I thought. This'll set me free to be traveling the European nation every Thursday through Monday. What could be better?

Looking back on this thought process, I can see where I went wrong. Firstly, being in classes during the week does not account for experiencing and appreciating the city you live in. Secondly, there really are just too many places to visit in the whole of Europe. And they each deserve a great deal of attention. So why did I think I could spare them each a weekend and that would suffice?

I was wrong on so many levels.

Leaving London is like reading a really great book and then stopping at a climactic moment. In your heart you know that you want to keep reading because there are so many great things to be experienced in the coming pages. But you get drawn away easily by little things like Facebook, or a meal time, or a European country.

Stop distracting me, Europe.

A few months ago, my friend Dana and I finalized our plans to visit The Disneyland Paris Resort. We were super excited about the prospect of getting to visit the theme parks there. Disney theme park fandom is an enormous aspect of both of our personalities and something we've always shared as friends, so this was just something that had to happen.

I'm so glad it's happening. I cannot wait to spend a few days with Dana exploring all that the French version of Disney has to offer. No doubt it will be magical. In fact, I've looked up photos. I'm thoroughly convinced it will be magical.

Before I leave for Disney, though, I will also be seeing a bit of Paris on my own. While I've been to the city three times already - once at age seven, again at 14 and finally once more at 18 - I've never been around it on my own. And despite having a grand European adventure that took me to bunches of new cities that I had to navigate on my own, I still fear the experience just a bit.

And I know on top of the butterflies in my stomach that will surely surface at the experience of being in Paris on my own, I will most definitely be homesick for London as well.

This is how I've always felt when leaving the city. While it's nice to see new places, there is nothing like being in the one place that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. If there is a place where my heart resides, it is London. And because it is London, it is hard to fathom being anywhere else for an extended period of time. Even home.

Having said that, though, the idea of Paris specifically is exhilarating. This will be the first time I've visited on my own (as I've mentioned), but also an opportunity to practice my rusty French. Without the crutch of another American in the city with me, maybe I will actually have some conversations with French-speaking individuals. I may not do very well, but I'd like to believe it could happen.

My idea of Paris is a very idealized one. I'm the type of person who does picture herself talking to Parisians on the streets of the city, or sitting in a park and having a meet-cute with a random Parisian person. These things will likely not happen.

On the other hand, I do expect to wander about the city and admire its beauty, and to occasionally feel as if I've been transported into a film while moving through the streets. Maybe I'll even encounter Ernest Hemingway or F. Scott Fitzgerald along the way.

I can only hope.

So here I go. Tomorrow night is my last in the city of London for the weekend. The next day I will be safely navigating les rues de Paris. And hopefully that night I will have made it to the Disneyland Paris Resort.

I'm a little intimidated at the thought of being a lone traveler again. But I'm excited. And I won't be alone for long.

So as I prepare to say goodbye to London once again, I bid it a fond farewell and anxiously await my return. But Paris is as good an excuse as any if you ask me.

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