When it became apparent that Finch and I weren’t going to spend New Year’s together in England as planned, I came up with this brain wave to go to Paris. I’d never been here, sort of always waiting for the partner who wanted to come with me. None of mine ever did, and I decided it would be a good city to wander aimlessly in, to walk off the angst of the end of my relationship, the extreme difficulty of this last couple of weeks.
I also had the notion that this would be a good place to do some reflection, on everything from what the 365 photo project had turned out to be, to what I am really doing on this earth, what it is I’m enacting in my endless quest for love and adventure (and how maybe they shouldn’t go to together, huh?).
The universe had some other plans for me. My body has taken a bit of a whacking, between the travel and the emotional stress and the diving. I had an intermittent high fever with chills the last two nights in the Philippines, and carried it home with me. I stayed at Finch’s house 24 hours (slept about 18 of those hours straight after landing and barely got out of bed the rest of the time, scrounging snacks from the very bare larder) then headed off for France on the Eurostar.
Saying goodbye to Finch at the airport was brutal, just brutal. Hard to leave someone you’ve loved so deeply, and we had Big Talks on the way home, leaving us in a more peaceful and forgiving but sad and bereft place.
My first morning in Paris, I hopped up and walked more than an hour to the louvre, realizing just how far from everything my hotel was (and learning that French joggers will give you nice and clear directions, but they will correct your pronunciation first — not, le looovre, as I said it, but le loooovrruh).
I then realized that my own personal little quest was being played out in a heaving sea of people. I added myself to the incredible queue, read the Julia Child biography on my kobo, waited patiently to get inside, waited further for tickets, and when I was almost at the elusive ticket machine (an hour after I arrived at the Louvre), I just up and… fainted.
Everything did indeed swim and go black, and I thought I was going to vomit, and I found myself on the floor. I got some help from a security guard, and went to the café and had sprite and water and a ham sandwich, and didn’t feel a whole lot better, so took a cab back to my hotel and slept for about 6 more hours.
The whole time I’ve been here, I’ve been time-shifted and dopey and sore, and my body has just buzzed with weird physical symptoms. More fever, headache, weirdly swollen and itchy hands, odd skin eruptions on my chin. I think I’m just emotionally exhausted, coupled with some kind of Thing, a virus or possibly even malaria. (The fever is very unlike me).
I get home the 2nd and I’ll see a doc then, but I suspect it will be cleared up by then. It’s been a tough time.
Yesterday, I bought a ticket for one of those hop on/hop off tour busses, which I thought would be a restful way to see the city. It wasn’t restful to wait in the bus shelter with an increasingly antsy crowd for an hour waiting for it in the morning, but I did see many of the things that make me want to come back.
I got off at Notre Dame, and happened across the beginning of a mass (after another 30 minute queue). So I went to Mass at Notre Dame.
I may be a pope-hating atheist (seriously pope-hating — just read in The Guardian that this pope blessed the woman introducing the legislation in favour of the death penalty for gay people in Uganda), but I’m still a cultural catholic of French ancestry, and I’ve hankered to go to Mass in Notre Dame for a long time. (The priests were mostly African, for the record). It was comforting.
After lunch, that was it for my energy, so there was sleeping and watching the entire series of Call the Midwife, and then pasta puttanesca from room service for desert. Just couldn’t face crowds, walking, being in the world. Set some intentions for the year, reflected gently, and wished for a 2013 where I can live into who I most want to be.