Back in the US

27 September 2015

Well, today marks our first day back in the US in over a week. I could have stayed in Paris for another month and never tired of it, I know. I miss the sights, the sounds, the smells, the activity, and the history. Here, there is really none of that. Here there are people living their daily, boring lives, arguing over things that don’t matter. Here is, unfortunately, where I spend most of my time.

No, I can’t be on vacation forever. I can’t really go more than once or maybe twice per year. Partly due to no vacation time at my job, which means that when I’m off, I’m not getting paid at all. That part really does stink, as it’s like being back at a part-time job in college. You’d think that the legal industry could figure this out somehow and make it where vacation came with a position, but unless you’re a secretary, it doesn’t happen. That’s sad.

I also am not limited, though, to a certain number of weeks. It’s a double-edged sword. I can’t take as many as I used to (6 per year!) because I can’t afford to lose out on that much money. But, then again, I can go when I want if I play it right. The latter is the hard part, as playing it right is really hard to manage in the US.

There are too many pressures here. You have to be a certain way, even though we are all mutts from the melting pot of the world. Why you have to be a certain way is beyond my expertise. Why can’t we just not worry about what someone else has or is doing? What eternal difference does it really make if we are wearing the latest fashions? Seeing someone in those red-heeled shoes doesn’t make me think anything really great about the person. THe only thing I think is that I wonder if they truly are 700 times as comfortable as my inexpensive shoes from Shoe Carnival? Do I really care? I mean, I love shoes, but I love a variety, not just the one pair that I can afford.

I fit in in a place like Paris. There is so much going on that you don’t even realize that people are walking around you at times. People go about their daily lives. I saw many many ex-pats or travelers who had obviously been staying a long time. On our trip north, we encountered non-Parisian French men, women, and children. They looked a lot like some of the Americans I know, with notable exceptions:

1. Very very few were heavily tattooed, and I saw only perhaps 10 people with visible tattoos during our whole tripe.
2. The children were, almost without exception, very well-behaved. Only when we got to Charlotte did we see a child truly misbehaving and not listening to his mother.
3. The children were allowed to do what they wanted to do – walk to the park, walk to school, be kids. There were no scary places and we went to a large chunk of the city.
4. The subways were cleaner than any I’ve ridden in the US. No trash, no sleeping people, and no terrible smells.
5. Not many overweight people at all. The most we saw were before we left the States, in Chicago, and on our return to the US. I could have told you just by seeing so many overweight people in Charlotte that we were no longer in Paris.
6. Everyone wears black, even if they have on another color with it. Everyone.
7. The military patrols were scarce. No one – not a single person – has a gun other than the military. No open carry crap, and no crazy weirdos.
8. If you gotta go you just go. I saw more people peeing in bushes by the Basitille than anywhere else, although I did see a little girl peeing over a grate in line at a ride in Disney. She was with her mom, and the restrooms were pretty far away. Still better than the drunk fan at the U of A game parking lot three years ago!
9. The shops don’t open until 10am for the most part, other than the boulangeries (bakeries) which open early.
10. The trains stop running between 2:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m., give or take.
11. The people stay up late at night to enjoy the city. As a night owl, I loved this.
12. Everything is historical. Our hotel was. The bakery next door was, the restaurants were, the churches, etc. It’s everywhere and it’s amazing.
13. The entire time we were there, we saw ONE pick up truck. It was on the freeway – the A13/14/46 going north near Caen.
14. There are thousands of scooters on every street and they drive like maniacs. Amazingly, they are smart enough to wear helmets, unlike people in Arkansas who believe their headscarf will save them in a crash. I just honestly think people who ride without one are idiots.
15. I felt no – absolutely none – fear or fright the entire time I was there. No shootings, no stabbings, no muggings. Amazingly in a city where people told me they were afraid for me to go due to bombings, I felt safer than I do at my office.

We had such a wonderful time. Paris has replaced another on my list of favorite places to go. We definitely want to go back again when we have the chance. I hope that is soon. Paris has now gotten into my heart, and I’m afraid it won’t leave anytime soon.

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