I realized today that I’ve been doing this blog for a year, which amazes me. Maybe next blog I’ll do some reflections about my first year of blogging. But today I want to celebrate with the perfect anniversary (blog-iversary?) memory: Paris. What better way to round out my travel blog than with stories about Paris?
I’ve already mentioned my second visit, a quick stop on route to and from Normandy last winter. My first trip was more special. I was 23 and nearly at the end of a very long trek around the world during which I’d held Paris out in front of me like a carrot. When exhausted by Italian train schedules or eager to leave Germany, I looked up 3 star Hotels in Paris City Centre and daydreamed about the Louvre. Whenever I went without to manage my tight travel budget, I promised myself a splurge in Paris.
I landed in Paris exhausted, knowing how to say only three phrases in French (and one of those was “I am a feminist vegetarian. I would not like any ham or patriarchy,” taught to me on a Dutch beach). I rested in my charming hotel for a bit, then dove into the city hungrily. Literally in that I stuffed myself with chocolate crepes, cheese, fruit, quiche and pastries. And figuratively with the Louvre (twice), Notre Dame, cafes like a fiend, the Eiffel Tower (where I watched people break dancing and liked it more than you can imagine), Musee d’Orsay, the Luxemburg Gardens, and all the rest. I spent a day wandering Montmarte, because I love the movie “Amelie,” and after a hearty climb up to the top of Sacre-Coeur basilica, I ate more crepes and pretended I was in the movie. Another afternoon I walked along the Seine on a gray day and considered how romantic and literary my life was.
On one of my final days I went shopping for lipstick. I’d gone almost seven months of traveling without any make-up at all, and I’d been promising myself lipstick in Paris for months. I walked around a big, gorgeous Parisian make-up store, every brand and style available, totally overwhelmed. What color? What qualities and characteristics was I looking for in this grand lipstick? After twenty minutes of staring at my incredible range of delicious-looking choices, I was overcome by a realization: I didn’t need anything. I was beautiful as I was. There was a whole thriving, bursting city for me to explore a little longer. I wanted another squeezed in memory more than I wanted something I could buy. I left the store empty-handed and triumphant. It’s one of my most cherished travel memories.
But if I went back today, I’d buy the lipstick. I know what color I want now.