When I wade through all of the other stuff that happened, I really enjoyed going to Paris. How could I not? It’s an amazing city, filled with so many things, and walking down the streets and listening to people talking gave me the enjoyment I needed.
I’ll dwell on the pain tomorrow. Today is reserved for the amazing things that happened, the light and smiles and almost magic. So, I’ll run through what happened, snapshot by snapshot, to show you a little of what it was like.
S, my ex-boyfriend, came to stay with us on Sunday, as you saw by my last post. That involved talking things out, dealing with emotions and other things I really don’t want to talk about, and surprisingly a lot of happiness. You don’t realise just how much you miss someone until they’re there again, even if not in the way you’d like them to be, but that’s a whole other bucket of shit.
On Tuesday, we took a train and a cab up to a travel lodge in King’s Cross. After we met up with people, I screamed for about ten minutes when I reunited with Violet and the girl who now has an unofficial “thing” with S, I’ll call her… Pansy, because she’s someone who means a lot to me. I hadn’t seen her in a year, and so when we met up again, we laughed until we howled, walked around the hotel trying to find a toilet, got lost when we attempted to find our room and so much more. It’s easy to be around her, and a lot of the sadness melted away because I KNOW she’s a great person.
We spent the night there, singing in the communal area, doing a lot of shouting and just making new friends or reuniting with old ones. I shared a room with Pansy and another girl that night, and we stayed up until 1 as we couldn’t sleep, speaking about deep shit but also laughing until our sides ached.
The morning was kind of hectic. We ate breakfast early, listening to the classic bustle of London, as I sat with L and Violet and ate a croissant (I was getting into the French swing of things). We were taking the Eurostar, and so we went into St. Pancras (NOT Pancreas) but not before S and Pansy got a photo at Platform 9 and 3/4 at King’s Cross. Border control was easy, but it did involve me holding the hands of three strangers. Then, we boarded the Eurostar – I’d never been on it before and IT WAS SO COOL – which was uneventful as fuck, except for L finding chargers beneath the seats and Violet crying with laughter over a song on her boyfriend’s phone.
When we got there, we got on the Metro which was about the best thing ever for the whole trip. I’ll whizz through all of the days, what we did and how fun it was, so as not to bore anyone. For anyone that doesn’t know, the Metro is a train system in the City: think of the London tubes, but they run on wheels and have tyres; you’re much more likely to stumble and fall over, but the people don’t mind if you grab onto them.
On the Metro, I almost strangled S because I fell over, screamed and laughed. We arrived at the hotel (involving getting lost and being tired), relaxed for a little, but then went on a little tour of the surrounding area. I shared a room with Pansy and two other girls (one lovely, one not so). I also had to share a bed with Pansy, but because I’ve known her for 6 years, I didn’t feel uncomfortable.
A french woman, I think called Marie, took us to Montmartre. On the way, we tried a baguette from the bakery (French baguettes are beautiful), splashed water at each other, nearly got run over, almost got high off the smell of paint, and did so much walking that my feet hurt (then again, I’m VERY unfit as it is). Going to the Church, Sacré Cœur, was a great experience – it was quiet, echoing and majestic, and though I’m not religious at all, I loved it. Walking through it filled me with a horrendous sadness, but I won’t dwell on that: we walked out of the church and it mostly faded.
After that, we said bye to Marie (I spoke French to her or tried to), walked down the street singing hymns with Violet, and then went to relax. That day was bloody emotional as I spoke to both Violet and Pamsy, and tried to help Violet as much as I could. For dinner, we went to this adorable little Crêperie because the restaurant we’d planned to go to hadn’t received our booking. I think that was better, because it was just us there – about 15 of us including kids +volunteers, all laughing. I sat next to Pansy, and between eating, we whispered that we’d talk later, and I overheard some pretty weird conversations with Violet, her boyfriend and L. After my conversation with Violet, we all went up to the boys’ room – all 9 of us – and didn’t leave until about 11. I nearly lost my cane, and just sat on the floor like a rebel.
On Thursday, we went to the Eiffel Tower, and that day was simultaneously the best and worst – the latter, I’ll explain tomorrow. Being classic terrists, everyone was excited, exclaiming over the Eiffel tower-shaped EVERYTHING (Pansy bought pasta, L bought about six models of them, and others bought keyrings). For both Violet and I, there were some horrendously low points, but also high ones too. Standing near the edge of the tower’s second floor, I looked out. I couldn’t see a thing – S and Pansy could, on the bit of floor slightly below us, but I couldn’t. All I could see was sky, a bit that wasn’s sky where there was a boundary, and some darker things below that was an unbroken line of… Nothingness. How do I explain it?
There was a volunteer there, and I’ll use his real name – John. John understood me, because he found me standing there, and took me to walk around. He described it all, from the river to the buildings, and said that there was always something he noticed when he came back to look, that he hadn’t seen before. I opened up to him and another volunteer, and we went into the gift shop to see everything. I’d say that the people who made my week were him and the other volunteers, for just being so relaxed: when we stayed up until 1 that night, they didn’t bat an eyelid, and told us that it was our decision and that they wouldn’t stop us. Their thoughts were that we were responsible enough to make our own decisions, and because they were so relaxed, we could freely swear and yell in front of them (I called Jamie, another amazing volunteer, an utter fucking bastard once and he choked on his laughter).
On the Tower, L screamed “QUI VEUT ME MARRIER?!” (a phrase Violet and I repeated under a bridge the next day, whilst 5 french boys walked towards us). It means “Who wants to marry me?” and he got no response, except for screaming laughter from me. In the afternoon, we went on a river cruise down the Seine, in which I saw the sunlight glancing and shimmering off the water. We screamed various phrases as we went under bridges, and there’s a video of us chanting under one of them. I sang to myself a little, and talked at length to the girl who I shared a room with that first night; we’ve grown much closer now, which is great. Some drama also happened which wasn’t too pleasant, but for a little while over dinner, it was mostly forgotten. I ate snails – which are actually really nice – Pansy and Jamie sobbed whilst laughing (still don’t know why) and whilst we were walking to the the place, Violet and her boyfriend got lost. We thought they’d gone to the numerous sex shops which frequented the streets, because they promised me they would if I let them cheer me up, but psh they didn’t.
As I mentioned, we went to “bed” at 1: again, we hung out in the boys’ room. That involved S “falling asleep” though he was actually awake, which made me cackle like a witch. In case you didn’t know, L had his blogiversary on Friday, and so at exactly midnight I ran over to him and bugged him, squealing “I’m SO PROUD, you’re so old now eyyy!” and that probably scared him. After going back downstairs, I spoke with Pansy until 3. The rest of them didn’t sleep much at all – S only got about an hour and so was delirious with tiredness, something that still makes me laugh. There’s a photo of both Pansy and I hugging him, and he could barely put a sentence together because he was so exhausted. To be fair, our adventures on the Metro and the rest of the day woke him up.
Speaking of that, Friday was definitely my best day, before we went home. In the morning we went to the Louvre, to an amazing art gallery with sculptures. Translating into French braille is surprisingly difficult, and took me a while, but then I felt the recreation of every single sculture. The attention to detail was exquisite, the lines of the flowing robes, fingers and sweeping features giving you such a good impression of what it looked like. Then, I could appreciate art, standing in the silence of my little section of beauty, marvelling at how beautiful everything was: Venus, Mercury, the Three Graces, each figure standing tall despite its size. I loved it all, even the maps of castles, even when we walked through rooms with cobbles and rough walls. Jogn explained it all to me, staying by my side with all the statues, helping me when I got stuck on what something was.
He did the same too, when we went to the Notre Dame: I couldn’t see the decorations, the purple on the stained-glass windows, the high ceilings and model of it with all its spires, or the floor worn down by thousands of feet, but I got a good picture of it from him. We spoke about the Pope, Saints, religion and everything in between: it was nice to be there in the hushed quiet, feet clicking on stones and just walking, not reflecting on any pain, and just existing.
Now, it wasn’t all like that. Throughout the day, before and after going to the hotel to pick up our bags, things happeng that made me almost vomit with laughter:
• We had a leaf fight, where I got leaves in my hair and Jamie chucked leaves at the leader of our group
• We went to a chocolate shop: I fangirled over the selection, eventually buying the most beautiful hot chocolate (it was literally like LIQUID chocolate)
• I drank it, and then immediately ate ice cream. Don’t try that at home, kids.
• Jamie made me sit on a freezing, metal lounge chair, screamed “OI WATCH OUT THERE’s A PIGEON!” and poked me with a leaf. I screamed very loudly, jumped up and then proceeded to yell at him. L fell for it, too, and everyone laughed at us.
• We danced the Cha Cha Slide in the middle of the Notre Dame square. I wasn’t embarrassed, and eventualhy we fell on the floor. So many people stared at us, but to be honest, I dinn’t care.
• On the way to the Metro, Jamie made joke sexist comments, and I’ve never yelled “Right FUCK OFF!” in public before that day.
Four of us had to go on a separate train, because the previous one was so full. It was me, Chef Boob (e’s actually called Bob and isn’t a chef but that’s a long story), Jamie andthe girl I shared with that first night. Jamie tried to say a stop in French, to which the French couple next to us burst out laughing. The girl said, “Jamie, they’re all laughing at you, shut up!”
“We most certainly are,” replied a random french man. I started talking to him, unable to speak because Jamie was so embarrassing. When we left the train, Jamie shouted “Mercy buckets!” and I couldn’t stop laughing for the next 20 minutes.
On the Eurostar on the way back, Jamie, S, Pansy and I walked down to get food. That resulted in Pansy’s dolphin laugh, me falling into people’s arms who were sitting down, me accidentally groping a man’s stomach and the slowest food line ever. When we got back, we were all talking, which caused two to LEAVE the train carriage because we were being so loud. By the end, I was so tired that I couldn’t walk properly.
Saying goodbye was the hardest part: S was coming home with us, but I knew I wouldn’t be seeing Pansy for a while, or Violet. I promised to come and visit Pansy some time in her school, and I hugged John and Jamie because they were fabulous. It feels weird to be back in England, almost unreal, and I miss the laughter, Jamie’s awful French and everything else.
There were little snippets of things that I’ll always remember. I’ll never be able to think about the word “pulsating” in the same way; whenever I cough violently I screech, and there are too many inside jokes to count. I feel like I’ve grown closer to a lot and people now, something that I needed to do. I got more than I wanted out of Paris, in some ways.
Oh my GOD, that was a long post. I hope I’ve done Paris justice, and that you could see what I felt and what I experienced there. It was funny, insane, and I made friends with French people for about 5 seconds.
From Elm 🙂