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My Impulsive 26th Birthday: Paris

December 6, 2017

 

 

 

Impulsive: acting or done without forethought. A force acting briefly on a body and producing a finite change of momentum. A pulse of electrical energy.

From latin: Impuls- driven onward.

 

I decided on my birthday trip to Paris that, within reason, I would say “yes” to almost anything I encountered. I wanted to be driven onward. I wanted a pulse of electrical energy for my 26th year. I didn’t want to wonder “What if…?” about the city I've been obsessed with since I was ten when I watched the film Moulin Rouge. This ended with me only sleeping about 8 hours total in 4 days in Paris. Go figure.

 

 

Something about crepes

 

The waiter just poured dry cider into a small, blue, ceramic bowl for me to drink out of. It bubbles up, glittering and murky like an enchanted potion. The air smells of butter and I’m sharing my table with a French gentleman wrapped in a bright red scarf. I like how Europe considers any empty seat an available seat and how you often end up sharing tables with total strangers. We both read our kindles.

 

How lucky I am in this life. How happy I am to be here.

One day after thanksgiving.

One day before 26.

 

It’s warm in the restaurant and the old man and I exchange silent expressions of delight as the waiter places my traditional open buckwheat crepe on the table.

 

I crack the over-easy egg in the middle and the yolk languorously rolls through the bed of roasted tomatoes. The buckwheat crunches in my mouth and flavor spills all over my tongue. I can die now. I’m already in heaven. I try to savor every bite.

 

 

 

Something about sight and color and weather

 

It’s not as cold in Paris as I expected. I was here for New Years and nearly froze… what a difference a month makes! Or maybe it's global warming... Golden leaves dance on the trees outside, adding a shimmering glitter atop the city’s already blue-and-yellow color scheme that I obsess over every time I visit.

 

The cream-colored buildings tucked under the mansard roofs of the city reflect the blue winter-light of November, with people's warm little lives glowing yellow within the windows. I love wondering about windows. Each one is a little frame holding an entire life of love and broken hearts and allergies and socks and and dreams and tasty dinners.

Scooters whirr by and it makes me miss mine in New Orleans. One day, I will live in Europe for real, and I'll have a drivers license here and a visa and a cat and a scooter of my own again.

 

 

Thoughts from a Museum

 

I promised myself when I was here last year that I would come back at least once more to take advantage of this sweet deal where so long as you have a student visa (I do for some reason) and are under 26, you can go to any museum in Paris for free. I had one last day to do this, and Musee D’Orsay was calling my name. They skeptically let me in, aware of the fact that I only had 8 hours left before turning 26. I love free things! A glass-ceilinged renovated train station is possibly the most beautiful venue I’ve ever walked through to experience art. I still remember coming here when I was 12. Look how blue and yellow it also is...

 

I meet Lautrec. I meet Van Gogh. I meet Picasso. I meet Monet and Manet and paintings I had hanging on my wall in high school. And then I meet Q! My darling Chatannooga friend that’s also doing this program who came here to spend my birthday with me. Two southern babes abroad.

 

I learn that Paris has such a unified aesthetic thanks to the genius of one single architect who re-envisioned the city in the mid 1800’s. I wish I could personally thank you, Monsieur Haussmann for dreaming up such a heart-breakingly beautiful place. Last time I was here, tears were rolling down my face as I walked around alone because it was all too overwhelmingly beautiful to handle.

 

This is the view out the clock-window of Musee D'Orsay, looking out to Sacre Coeur atop the hill of Montmartre at sundown. Swoon!

 

 

 

an adventure under and above the eiffel tower

 

Sometimes I like being touristy, especially if it means seeing the “City of lights” from above when all the lights are on. We plan ahead and snag some midnight picnic supplies of brie, baguettes, and a bottle of wine then turn a corner to see the majestic monument standing before us at last. How can something that is just metal bars be so overwhelmingly spectacular?

 

But serious security guards tell us the tower is “Ferme” for vague reasons, and we hear sirens coming closer. No one is allowed to go up. We open the wine and the baguette and brie and blissfully drink straight from the bottle next to the tower. Several gentlemen peddling other bottles of wine try to coax us into buying more, but we tell them “Non, merci” about 40 times. "Maybe later," we say..."maybe later." "petetre plus tarde?"

 

We nearly give up from the cold, then see they've miraculously opened the gates once more! Q quickly hides some champagne she just bought in a bush, as we can’t take it up with us, and away we go!

 

Riding the elevator up through the center of the tower is positively electrifying. It is completely surreal to be in the glowing belly of the oh-so-familiar beast, as we climb up and up and up and up. The view from the top is high enough that it almost looks as if we are looking down at a map of the city. Paris. What a charming lady you are. A cold, windy, thrilling, charming lady. She glows yellow, we glow too.