How was Paris? It was great! Of course it was great! A lot of people think I won this trip by chance, but that's hardly the case. Part of my success was tact, but most of it was asking every single person I had ever met via phone, text, email, or Facebook to vote for me. And the other part of it was having friends and family rallying behind me and spreading the word, because they wanted me to win. Everyone knows I freaking love this city and this country. I would have made it this year anyway, I just would have been thousands of dollars poorer. Of course Paris was great because I could just wander down the streets and be happy. But my vision of Paris is very different than most.
I had mixed emotions there. Sometimes I remembered how lonely and sad I was when I first arrived. In recent months, I've forgotten about all the things I did alone while I was there. I would go to events, bars, and museums alone all the time, half hoping to make a new friend. Jake and I spent a lot of time in the area where the Centre Pompidou is, one of our favorite places, a modern art museum. But that area has bad memories, because I lived there with some pretty awful people who were passive aggressive and mean and ultimately kicked me out. It was the for the best.
It was for the best because it led me to my next apartment, where I met the most amazing roommate who welcomed me into her circle of friends. These are the happy memories I have of Paris, and the ones that made it so hard to leave. Not only these friends, but also the families I worked for babysitting and tutoring. When people ask "How was Paris?" these are the people that made it great. By the time Jake and I left Paris for Berlin, I was exhausted by the many dinners and appointments with all these people. But I was glad for them all.
These were great times and I am so happy that I could go back to Paris and spend time with these people. Although they are far away, they are all very important people in my life. It was nice to see everyone and catch up, and it was nice to remember why this city is so amazing. We have the stereotype that French people are rude and hate Americans, and some of them do, yes. But not these people. They helped make Paris feel like home for me, and I really think I needed those lonely months to appreciate that more.
Paris was wonderful, because I was able to see these friends and that will help me continue to maintain these friendships. I stay in touch with these people via email and Facebook, but dining and drinking with them is much better. When I go back — I will, because I cannot stay away, even if I don't live there — I hope to again visit my favorite Thai restaurant along the Canal St. Martin, to see what the kids I used to babysit are up to, and to drink delicious inexpensive wine in the company of friends. I'll see the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre and all that good stuff, too. You gotta! But Paris means more to me than that.