Today I took the day off.
Usually, I’m out the door each day, skipping along with my comfy shoes, a map and guide, ready to take in far too much than one should in a day. I bustle along, picking up vittles here, taking photos there, and collapsing in bed exhausted, wondering how my feet will recover from the day’s abuse.
But today, I realized there is a limit to the amount of museums, sites and walking one can do before one stops on a random corner of Rue du whatever says to self Arrêt.
I needed a rest and a taste of my Santa Monica life, because as much as I try to stay present in my Parisian surroundings, aching thoughts of my old life creep in, especially when I’m tired. So I bought a burrito (main staple of the Angelino diet) and a Starbucks coffee (finally a coffee bigger than Barbie-sized) and I sat in the park at the bottom of my favorite street, Rue Mouffetard, to consume them both.
On every other day of the week, the street is filled to the brim with people. The smells of seafood, flowers and fruits can knock you sideways. And the colors… especially with the trees in bloom as a backdrop… eye candy galore. It’s the street in the film Julie & Julia where Julie Child collects her groceries and befriends the vendors. And it’s just like that.
But today, the street was closed and quiet. We sat in silence together, taking a collective sigh before we do it all again tomorrow.
Silent, reflective time can make me feel lonesome if I let it. Meeting friends here has… not been what I expected. Sure, a few people have come along here and there. And that’s been nice when it happens. But I toggle between wanting to meet people and wanting to be alone, which is likely why I don’t put in too much effort, relying instead on chance and people who are more outgoing than me.
I met someone like this last night. He sat next to me at Notre Dame. We were both reading the English side of the program. We talked. We went for coffee. We walked more. We found an Irish bar where the guitar player was playing English tunes in a French accent. Adorable. We stumbled home. Me to my dank, dreary apartment. He to his dank, deary hostel.
But before all that happened, he volunteered to be my camera man on my favorite street at 3 a.m., because as every solo traveler knows, it’s always nice to have someone else hold the camera for a change.
“It’s 3 a.m. I must be lonely.”
-lyrics to 3 a.m., Matchbox 20