I laid awake until two o’clock this morning, having an existential crisis over an upcoming trip to Paris.
Which was probably the most Yuppie Asshole thing I’ve done of late.
Last week was one of the most unimaginably horrible weeks I’ve experienced in a very long time — both because of some truly frightening things that were happening to me and because I was helpless in watching people I love endure unspeakable grief. Watching good people suffer one of the most vile human tragedies was and is…I don’t know. When someone comes up with a word for that in any known language, I’ll share it.
Given those circumstances, I did what I am wont to do, which was to immediately plan to travel. I had already booked business travel that week prior, so a weekend in France wasn’t really as obnoxious as it all sounded, but…still.
The initial discussion of a trip to Paris took place just days before the world turned to shit, so the purpose of running away really hadn’t been in response to The Week That Shall Live in Infamy. But my knee-jerk reaction to tragedy has always been to pull out my passport, as if it were a shield against horror. So.
The next thing I knew, eee and I were set for a romantic weekend away. And PG had decided to tag along for part of it.
I am probably the only woman in the world who has actively avoided the City of Light for most of her adult life. At least, for the better part of the last decade. My ex-husband had taken me there for my 25th birthday. It was beautiful, and cold, and misty. We’d met friends, and walked around on the gorgeous, damp streets. Had breakfast in bed each morning. I had a massage in a small room under the eaves of the roof of the hotel; listened to the sound of the rain beating down outside.
And he told me how beautiful he thought I was, and I made him promise that when I was 60, he’d tell me that I looked just the same as I did when we were in Paris when I was 25.
Then, on our last night there, we went to dinner with Stefan and Marine, and Andrew got food poisoning. Within two weeks of our return, my beloved dog died. Six weeks later, my grandmother died. And a few years after that, when Stefan and Marine came to town, we met them in Norwalk for lunch, and it was one of the moments when it was just so clear that my marriage to Andrew was over.
There was no more Paris. There would be no one remembering me on my 25th birthday when I was 60.
Sometimes, now, I get photos from a friend who travels frequently to Paris. But the pictures have become fewer and farther between. Those photos tell a different, complicated, beautiful, and strange story of why I haven’t gone to Paris, either.
So I cancelled trip after trip to France. I’ve only been once in many years — on business — for a series of high-level meetings, and a conference. I only stayed a day. I was supposed to go in November, even, but I looked for any excuse to shut that down, and purposely scheduled a meeting too late on Tuesday to make either a flight or a train for an early Wednesday event. Then I planned to see D, and N & R’s new baby, because I didn’t want to suffer the angst or indignity of a night of crying in a hotel room.
But now, I’m going back. I’m ready to go back.
So all of this left me wide awake at two o’clock this morning, watching Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, and sucking on those strawberry candies with soft middles.
For what it’s worth, I know there are bigger things happening in the world. I am well aware there is tragedy and grief and horrible stuff going on in my immediate circle of friends and family. But sometimes, we deal with the bad stuff by being mature, kind, caring, giving adults, and then sometimes, our stores of maturity are spent. And we become petulant, childish, yuppie assholes agonising over men, and love, and photographs, and who will hold our faces and say I love you, you’re beautiful when we’re 60.
The thing is, I suppose, it really has nothing to do with Paris at all.