Monday, November 16, 2015

J'taime, Paris.

I didn't hear about the terror attacks when they first happened. I was in Memphis with the girls all weekend, so I didn't have much time to myself and I didn't want to watch (or even read) news reports with them. My cousin's husband read us the headline off his phone Friday evening, and my heart just sank.

Today, NPR was reporting from Paris and after I dropped off Coco, I gripped the steering wheel tightly as I listened to news I would honestly have preferred to turn off. Sometimes I let myself shut off the radio, but sometimes I feel like I need to force myself to hear it--like I owe it to the victims to pay witness to their suffering. (This is one of those things I don't think I would have felt before I became someone who has a story of suffering that many do not want to hear or acknowledge.)

Paris has been on my mind all day, and while the reality of the terror attacks has been at the forefront of my thoughts, I've also been reflecting on the four days that David and I spent there, and how enchanted we were by the beautiful city. We stayed in a flat just down the block from the Luxembourg Gardens and each evening we'd get a nutella gelato from the corner shop and then walk down to sit in the gardens and talk and people-watch. It was such a happy place for me--literally when someone talks about imagining your happy place (like when my trainer was making me do wall sits and told me to "Go to your happy place,") I imagine a wrought-iron chair in the warm sunshine of the Luxembourg Gardens, surrounded by lovely blooms and green grass, watching Parisians saunter by, soaking up the end of a summer day with a gelato cone.

I went back to my blog archives from 2009 to revisit that vacation. That trip was such a sweet spot. We were celebrating 5 years of marriage, nearing the end of my PhD program, and it felt like we were in a really good place in life. It was on that trip that David and I decided to get serious about having a baby, and we bought a sweet little onesie while we were there as a memento of a beautiful vacation and a new direction in life. It has a frog and a duck on it, and the frog is croaking and the duck is saying, "J'taime" back to the frog.

Bought with the hope for our first Baby Duck, modeled here by Coco
We got home from Paris in August, I finished my dissertation that December, defended it in February, got pregnant with Eliza in April. In some ways, it felt like the grown up part of my life really started in Paris, with a champagne toast to new adventures.

It's painful to think of that city crippled by fear and marred by outrageous violence. It was such a thrilling and magical place for me, and we were so very happy there.

On our first day, we located our lovely flat and made the required visit to the Eiffel tower (there's also a shout-out to friendly Canadians).

On our second day, we toured museums and discovered the Luxembourg gardens.

On our third day, we saw Notre Dame (I write a lot about flying buttresses), Shakespeare & Company bookshop, and the Louvre.

And on our last full day in France, we went to Versailles, but made it back to Paris to see the catacombs and revisit the Luxembourg gardens.

And--just in case you can't get enough of someone else's vacation stories from several years ago--here's the tale of us heading home from Paris and getting separated on the way to the airport in London.

Thanks for the memories, Paris. May the future hold many more good ones. J'taime. xo

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