TGIF: Paris, The Grass Ain’t Greener Y’all
By: Tina Francis
I’m in Paris.
Bread, wine and cheese Paris. Cute bikes with baguettes in baskets, quaint music, Eiffel Tower Paris. Yes. THE Paris.
I’m here because Husband is on a work trip and they said, “Bring your wife!”
I’ve known about the trip for a month but didn’t make a big giddy announcement on Facebook or start a virtual countdown for the trip. Mostly because I’m completely paranoid and lean towards “glass half-empty” to protect my heart. If I was ever nominated for an Oscar I’d have the perfect poker face for the moment Jennifer Lawrence wins. My (flawed) philosophy is to keep expectations low so that I’m never disappointed. No point getting all drunk on happiness just in case things don’t work out, amirite? (Note to self: #mustseetherapist)
Another reason I didn’t say anything about the trip was because I didn’t want to be THAT person. You know, newly married, jetting off to Paris, the city of romance. *gag* It’s terribly cliche and picture perfect, no?
Real life isn’t picture perfect. Some of my dear friends are going through some pretty dark stuff at the moment with their health, finances, children and relationships and I feel the sting of my privilege. I’ve been discovering more and more how much the guilt of my privilege silences me lately. But that’s for another blog post!
We’ve been in Paris for about 4 days. We are staying in the burbs at the moment because our hotel is close to Husband’s office.
The word “Paris” used to conjure up all sorts of images of magic, decadence and whimsy in my mind, what with all its cathedrals, couture and cafes. (And Amelie, all things Amelie!!!) But the more time I spend here, I’m struck by how even the most “magical” place on earth is really made up of just regular folks, like you and me, living out their brutiful* lives.
People sniffing produce, folding laundry, doing homework, taking the bus and reading the newspaper. People depositing checks, making a midnight snack and probably watching cat videos on YouTube.
2013 was filled with a lot travel for me: Uganda, Burundi, Moldova, New York and India.
G.K. Chesterson said, “The traveller sees what he sees. A tourist sees what he comes to see.” Over the years, I’ve been sharpening my traveller lens when I visit a city. I try to see beyond the tourist destinations, shopping and photo ops. I try to see beyond the single storyI’ve been fed through media, textbooks and word-of-mouth.
It’s not always easy, but I try to really see the people I interact with: the people serving me coffee, carrying my luggage and checking me in. I notice their perfume, the texture of their hair, the timbre of their voices. It’s part of the reason it’s hard for me to have a SUPERDUPER vacation anywhere because I see too much. Tourist eyes guarantee a good time. Traveller’s eyes not so much.
Proust said it best, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” With every new city I visit, I’m confronted by the parts of my own life I’m not awake to. I always go back home with “new eyes.” I see my city, my home, my friends and my family with fresh perspective.
After all, isn’t love, marriage and your first kiss just as magical in Mumbai and Nairobi as it is in Paris? Isn’t heartbreak, cancer and losing your job just as earth shattering in Paris as it is in Vancouver? Isn’t if safe to assume then, that the sacred, the luminous, and the ordinary everyday miracles are just as accessible in Kigali, Kansas and Kyoto?
Paris is wonderful. But the grass isn’t greener here, friend. If you take off those $2 sunglasses and wipe away the sleepies in the corner of your eye, you’ll see it’s plenty green Exactly. Where. You. Are.
Love you more than warm croissants, #thatsawholelottalove