I didn’t even realize it until Facebook told me.
This was five years ago yesterday at the airport in Toronto:
Look at me. The sensible travel clothes, the beat up suitcase. The MEC backpack. So ready.
My sister dropped me off. She had a brave face but I could tell she was freaking out inside. I think it’s because I told her I brought with me a hundred Gravol pills. These are for motion sickness but they make you so very tired. They are Canada’s secret sleeping pill. I said if things got too bad, I’d just take the Gravol. She was not pleased with this comment. Nearly turned the car around.
When I landed in Paris, I hopped on the train to the Métro stop near the apartment I was renting. I remember feeling cold sweats the whole way, and being conscious that I probably smelled terrible. The lady renting me the apartment was there with the keys in hand, and after a brief tour, she left me to unpack. I didn’t.
Instead I picked up a tourist travel book on Paris, likely left there by another tourist who stayed there before me. I opened it and found where my apartment was located. Then noticed there was a market street nearby. That’s where I’d go. Find me a baguette.
This is the first picture I took in Paris:
Here is what is creepy cool about this photo. A few months later I moved in with Christophe, who lived in an apartment behind that boucherie with the red lettering. So basically my first photo of Paris was of my future apartment. And that white haired couple. I think that’s really the ghosts of Janice and Christophe future, visiting Paris later in life… or after life. Sensibly dressed. Still holding hands. Awwww.
I walked up the street RIGHT BY Christophe who worked at another butcher shop and plunked my travel-weary self down at a café.
He was standing right THERE roasting chickens like it was any other day of the week. Of course, I didn’t see him. I was sitting around the corner of the café. I incorrectly ordered a coffee and was corrected by the waiter. I opened my journal and began writing.
Another creepy cool fact. The waiter who served me my coffee is the same guy that gave us a glass of champagne on our wedding day when we sat down in the same spot a few years later.
But back to the first day… the caffeine propelled me up the street to gather fixin’s for dinner: Baguette, soup, wine, and cheese.
Just look at how pleased I am to have a baguette sticking out of the back of my grocery bag.
I returned home and made dinner. I was too tired to sit in a restaurant. Better to have my face fall in my dinner at home. I think I fell asleep at 8 pm. I was wide awake at 3 am and had received a text from Sharon and Alan (Akemi and Chapter 33 in Paris Letters) They had sent photos of themselves partaking in planking. They wanted one of me planking in return. That’s when I realized I couldn’t take a selfie of me planking. I felt very alone. I didn’t even have a friend to take a planking photo of me.
How weird it is to remember this moment.
I didn’t know anyone and I knew that it could be quite some time before I had friends, and on my travels, they were likely to be fleeting friendships, unlike with my planking compadres Sharon and Alan.
I drifted back to sleep with these concerning thoughts, woke, showered, dressed and walked over to that same café on rue Mouffetard.
That’s when I spotted the lovely Christophe.
Five years later. A husband, successful online business, and a New York Times bestseller under my belt. Pas mal, as they say in France. Not bad.
(The husband is the best part.)