So it appears that I will be able to go to Paris to meet David, after all. He was finally able to find away to get me a business class ticket that didn’t cost $10,000. Am I that spoiled that I won’t consider a trip to Paris if I have to fly coach? Well, I guess we won’t have to find out this time around. Look, flying to Paris in business class is sentimental for me. Not only was it the first time I ever flew international business class, but it was also the first international trip that David and I ever took together (I am not counting those trips to Vancouver, Canada because they barely count as being international). That was 2006. That memory deserves business class.
The challenge for writing about this upcoming trip is that I used up all of my good Paris anecdotes the last time around. I can’t write about Gigi again. The reality is also that I haven’t really been a Francophile for quite some time. For the past several years I have loved all things British, and so other than rereading Camus now and again, I haven’t done anything French in a long time. One might also point out that Paris is still a city that terrifies me, even though I have been there before. Heck, I would be less scared at the prospect of taking a canoe trip through the Congo River Basin than in taking a holiday in Paris. Paris intimidates me like no other place. It reminds me of all of the things in life that I am not good at.
I guess I can best explain it through a song. Do you remember this song? For much of my adolescence and young adulthood, I wanted to be the girl described in this song. Heck, in my French I class my freshman year of high school, I even chose the French name Marie-Claire. It wasn’t because of the magazine. But I realized, probably around the time that I went to Paris in 2006 that in spite of my designs, I would never be that sophisticated, and that was okay. I would never be tall, slender and dressed in Balmain. I would always be awkward and clumsy. For a while now, I have decided to stop faking it and stop trying to model my life on some passionate French debutante. For the most part, I am entirely comfortable with myself, but Paris just brings back the hosts of insecurities. I mean, I hate listening to myself trying to speak French. It didn’t matter how many years of French language instruction I took, my French accent is terrible. The only thing that I have ever been able to speak well in French is the Paul Verlaine poem that I memorized in my French I class back when I thought I someday would be worldly and sophisticated.
And now, I just aspire to be steady and practical. I think that is okay. I mean, isn’t that what is so celebrated about the Queen, particularly in this her Jubilee year? The Queen isn’t flash, she is composure personified. So, I would like to think that maybe everyone is coming around to the notion that steadiness is preferable to passion. I mean, think of the new Les Miserables movie currently being made. They cast the prototypical British public school boy Eddie Redmayne to play Marius, the prototypical French passionate rebel. That says a lot about what even Hollywood thinks about French passion as of late. Sure, Eddie played some other passionate characters in My Week with Marilyn and Birdsong, but those movies were cautionary tales about too much passion, because people died. Only a French author could conceive of a happy ending with a guy like Marius.
But I digress far from my original point, which was to say simply that I am going to Paris again in a week, and the place still scares me. Above all, in spite of my comfort level with my pretty straightforward life, the idea of Paris reminds me that I grew up to be a pretty boring person. A boring person who gets choked up trying to speak French, that is.
Before I go, and when I have time to upload some pictures, I will write about my time home with my family in Mississippi and in Pensacola. Now there are two places where I am not ill-at-ease by any measure.