Monday, July 20, 2015

Closing Thoughts

Okay, I’ll share a few thoughts, but you’re being warned. This is only a fraction of what I’m taking away from my time spent in Paris. So here it goes…
First. The people. My Columbia buddies (and “honorary CC student”) Paige, Lauren, and Gena have made this trip what it was. Absolutely incredible. We shared so many laughs…from protecting one another from cute pick pocketers (that’s how they getcha), to sharing space with oddballs on the metro, to navigating Parisian streets, to many more moments worthy of giggles. I laugh just thinking about it. Every moment with these ladies was laced with wit, humor, and light heartedness. Evening after evening, we opened up to each other with vulnerability, depth, and honesty. We accept each other for who we are and where we’re at…mistakes, quirks, and all. They taught me how to enjoy travel with others (I have to admit, I’m a major fan of solo travel.)
It seems as if God’s timing and a little bit of fairy dust allowed me to see some friends from my past as well! I met Jordyn for lunch (an Atlanta friend who grew up with me in middle school and high school). I met Jazmine (another Atlanta friend who went through the rigorous IB program with me at NAHS). I met Marisa (a close friend who has kept in remarkably good touch with me from middle school to now). These moments were so sweet!
Second. The place. PARIS! The first few days were rough, I’ll be honest. I smelled a lot of pee and interacted with a lot of strange characters. But then the girls and I went down to the Seine for a sunset riverboat cruise with the group and things just became magical. I really think there’s something special in the Seine water because after that cruise, the sky was brighter. The people were friendlier. Everything was just romanticized. Paris became a wonderful place to explore (buying good walking shoes also helped…my Old Navy flip flops were quickly tossed). We took the Metro everywhere which, again, gave us plenty of opportunities to laugh at ourselves and at others. More importantly, though, there became this exciting little thrill from rising up out of the underground tunnel and into pockets of Paris that were so beautifully diverse. Every arrondissement has a different culture…some are uppity and fancy, some are business-focused, some host the homes of immigrant families, and the list goes on. Each is special. Each is full of fun. Paris is not just a place; it has a spirit…a character that took time for me to appreciate, but now holds a very special place in my heart.
I think my last night in Paris wraps up my blog post well. My friends and I went to the Eiffel Tower to watch the fireworks show for Bastille Day and it was an incredible experience. First of all, there was minimal public rowdiness. I don’t think there’s one professional baseball game I’ve gone to without obnoxiously loud, drunk men or women stumbling with their clothes falling off. But in Paris, the people are just classy and respectful in public spaces. I totally get that this is just my experience. You might have experienced another side to Bastille Day. But, for me, it was spectacular. Another note…Bastille Day celebrates French independence but the 30 minute long fireworks show expressed appreciation and respect with a diverse arrangement of songs. You don’t find that in America. France seems to, without generalizing, nod to multiple major demographics of the country. And it gave me chills. How uniting! The show itself is amazing. The fireworks came out of the Eiffel Tower, which I wasn’t expecting. I wanted to cry the whole time from sitting in front of this show and reflecting on my amazing summer.
This summer opened me to new parts of my inner being. It also opened me to new parts of humanity and culture. I wouldn’t change anything about it – if you’re lucky enough to visit Paris, let me know! I’d love to share more practical tips and tricks I learned while navigating. Thanks for following my thoughts and reflections!
Take care,

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