I set my alarm for 6AM.
Everything was already packed, I just needed to lock up my suitcase and jump in the shower. I planned on waiting at the taxi stand at Odeon for a ride to the airport. The idea of carrying my luggage down stairs for the RER B exhausted me. Maybe if I was backpacking and 21 again, but I was not. I had saved enough for a taxi ride.
Went downstairs and greeted Bonjour to Jean-François, think French Michael Gambon from Life Aquatic. We did everything in French! The whole check-out and everything. He was very intrigued and asked where I was from so I said California but that I was Filipino. He said that it was fantastic that I spoke French.
He asked how I was getting to the airport and I mentioned the taxi stand and he said that that wouldn’t do, at this hour there might not be any taxis. He insisted he call a cab for me to come pick me up and I said that would be great. He called the taxi service saying that there is a mademoiselle (also, everyone on this trip has called me Madame, he is the only person to call me a Mademoiselle!) here who needs to go to the airport rapidement (quickly).
While waiting for the taxi, he asked how my trip was, if it was enjoyable and what I did. I gave him the basic rundown, mentioned Melissa and so on. I asked him where he loved to travel and he said he likes going to London for long weekends using the chunnel and that he loved Picadilly street! The first French Anglophile I’ve ever met. I sorely wished I’d talked to him more while I was staying there. His good nature made me feel comfortable to use my French, and all you really need to help you practice is a patient conversationalist who wants to see you master the language.
The taxi came and he carried out my luggage for me, while I held onto Louis and my tote. I tipped him though he refused it but I insisted and he was thankful. I got into the car and I heard him say to the taxi driver, “Elle parle bien le Français.” (She speaks French well.) I beamed.
The driver dropped me off at my terminal. I sent my tax forms off, but I was a bit too early to check in so I grabbed breakfast. After security, I saw a Ladurée shop so I popped in. I hadn’t bought any presents for my cousins and I wanted to get a box of macarons. Ordered one big box of 24 and 4 smaller boxes of 6.
On the way to the gate, I saw a piano that was being played by a young boy wearing a backpack. He played “My Heart Will Go On.” I watched until he finished, he got up and smiled at me and walked away. I sat down and played some songs from Le Fabuleaux Destin d’Amelie Poulain, the only songs I really know by heart.
I noticed a cute Chris O’Dowd type guy watching me wearing dark jeans, a chambray button down shirt and a blazer and carrying a briefcase, I wondered whether he’d be on my flight. He walked away before I finished.
Browsed the shops a bit then boarded the plane and Chris was on it! A row across and one up. He read a book titled Emotions Revealed. Unfortunately, London was his last stop and I had to catch a connecting flight.
Flight to LAX didn’t feel as long. I slept well and I even ate a meal! Also watched at least four episodes of Veep.
I was glad to have seen Paris when I did. I had been thinking about my year there, how I often wish I could do it all over again, start life all over again from there, do things much more differently, the whole We Have To Go Back Lost-esque mantra and all. Walking around on my last day, I finally felt closure. What happened, happened. Paris has moved on and so should you.
Landed Friday evening. Because I declared more than $800 of foreign goods bought, it seems I had to be questioned and pay a tax. The customs guy asked what could’ve been so expensive that I bought abroad. I mentioned the Louis and my Dad’s shirts. “A Louis Vuitton? Congratulations.” He was probably making fun of me but I thanked him anyway.
”Usually, I got to tax you 15% for goods over $800..but it’s Christmas. Get out of here.”
“Go on, go on.” Lord, I wish people were this kind every day.
I didn’t sleep well that night or for the next couple nights after, that wanderlust had been awakened and I tried to dream of new trips to put it to rest. Maybe going somewhere every Christmas should be a yearly thing. I thought of New Zealand for two weeks, or maybe somewhere closer. Seattle? Chicago? Should I go alone again or could I persuade someone to come with me? Would I be comfortable with that?
There’s stil time, there’s still time, I tried to slow down my thoughts. Just make each trip better than the last.