16 November 2015
Four days now, I have cried. For the French. For my Paris. For the innocence that has been destroyed. For those who lost their lives. For those who were stranded between here and there. For everything.
I imagine myself sitting in one of those cafes, on the sidewalk, looking out at the busy street, on a cool crisp morning in September. It could have been us. We chose our cafes at random, reading the menus and feeling like our selections fit the day. Like so many of those who were killed, we were merely on an outing, enjoying the evening. We never ate inside the entire time we were there, other than the palace of Versailles and the Louvre. We enjoyed the outdoors. We enjoyed watchig the crowds pass by. We enjoyed, most of all, being a part of it. Being a party of everything going on.
That is what the people were doing that Friday, as well.
As I sat in the airport on Friday in Chicago, I cried. I wept for the time we had. For the time that will never be the same again. I am glad that I got to enjoy the Paris before the attacks. The innocence of it all. The cafes with their wicker chairs, their candles. I wept for the American student on Saturday – enjoying her semester abroad. I cannot imagine if I had had that opportunity. She was 20. I’m 44. I’ve lived a lifetime more than she will ever enjoy. It breaks my heart. I always wanted to study abroad. No one encouraged me, really. We didn’t have the money, anyway, and there weren’t scholarships for that sort of thing. Instead of 20 or even 30, I waited until my 44th year to visit The City of Light. I was amazed. I still am.
I will go back. I will drive around the Champs Elysees again. I will drive the countryside, headed north or south. I will enjoy my France. My Paris. I will explore parts of the city that I didn’t get to on the first visit. I will enjoy parts of Marseilles where I didn’t get to go the first time. I will probably not visit Utah Beach again. It was a one-time experience. A one-time life-changing experience. I still cannot believe that I was able to go there. I DROVE there. ME. I DID IT. It was absolutely amazing. Something I’ve always wanted to do, and I got to do it.
No matter what – working at Taco Bell, as an attorney, or my hideous former day job, I will continue to travel. It is who makes me me. It is what shapes my life. It is what I live for.
I could give up everything I own, with one exception, to travel forever.