Not so Magical: The Eiffel Tower

Oct 16, 2014 by

          “I currently have no interest in Europe,” I told Olivia shortly after I returned from Italy in August. “My dream trip – I couldn’t care less about it. And honestly, I don’t feel like going on some big independent adventure right now.”

          “It’s probably just a phase,” she replied.

          “Yeah,” I sighed doubtfully. “You know what I want to do? I want to quit my job and not go to Europe. I want to quit, live my happy life here, be unemployed for a bit, and just write my blog.”

          “Then do that,” Olivia encouraged.

          “I can’t. Staying home costs money. I saved that money for my dream trip. I refuse to spend it on anything else,” I stubbornly stated. “So many people say they’ll take a big trip to Europe only to never go. I don’t want to be the girl that didn’t go to Europe.”

 

***

 

10.16.2014 - Not so Magical, The Eiffel Tower          Your first visit to the Eiffel Tower is supposed to be magical. Mine was a little over a week ago. I walked five steps from my apartment in pursuit of the tower, a Google-estimated one hour and 14 minutes away on foot, when it began to sprinkle rain. I considered going back upstairs to get my umbrella, but figured I’d be fine with my hood. How much could it really rain in an hour and 14 minutes? (You know those seemingly small, insignificant decisions you make only to look back later and contemplate how vastly different something might have played out if you had made the opposite choice? This was mere hours from becoming one of those.) Foolishly guessing not much at all, I kept walking, making one quick stop along the way. I’ve always wanted to pop champagne under the Eiffel Tower (because doesn’t everyone?). In preparation for what I thought would surely be one of those epic life moments, like Notre Dame, I picked up a bottle. When I told Pascal, the cashier, the purpose of it, he kindly gave me a plastic champagne flute. “I know it’s raining, Pascal, but I will pop this bottle under that tower!” I remember saying, beaming as I left his shop in the direction of Champ de Mars.

          First off, can we please talk about how Google lies? I love Google. It knows everything. Yet it can’t accurately estimate walk times. That hour and 14 minutes, in actuality, was over two hours. Two hours in what turned out to be pouring rain. Oh, and you know when you can see your destination from afar, so you can’t turn around and go home because it’s so close? That’s an illusion. That’s always an illusion. You can see the Eiffel Tower from much of the Seine. I erroneously thought I was getting close from Pont des Arts, still a Google guess of 44 minutes away, when the rain began to soak through my jacket.

          This gave me much time to think. So much so, by the point that puddles had formed in my boots (one of which contained my credit card as backup in case I got pickpocketed at the tower), I had surpassed thinking to crying – and not because of the situation at hand (though I would have much rather been crying over something as trivial as rain). I can’t recall exactly how my thoughts trailed to a guy; but as noted, two hours in the rain is a lot of time to get lost in thought. Consequently, my walk to the Eiffel Tower coincided with the overwhelming realization that nothing substantial is ever going to happen with the person I want something substantial with. I already knew this, but there is something about being on the opposite side of the world from someone and having to remind yourself that it wouldn’t matter if you were in the same room: the feeling is not mutual. It isn’t your fault and it certainly isn’t his. It just is what it is, and what it is fucking sucks. In the rain, on the way to that tower, I lost all remaining strands of hope that I’ve been anxiously holding on to for months. Such hopelessness will probably serve me well in the long run. In the moment, it hurt like hell.

          With my hair dripping wet despite my hood and my face gleaming tears concealed by rain, I eventually looked up to see the Eiffel Tower sparkling in front of me, the way it’s scheduled to every hour on the hour after dark. By the time I was steps from its foot, I wanted to turn around, but I forced myself to walk right underneath it because I had come so far. I tried to convince myself to laugh it off – the sobbing, the wetness, the guy that’s not my guy – but I couldn’t. I couldn’t even pop the champagne. It was not a celebratory moment. Not only had I cried to the tower, I was crying beneath the tower and would continue to cry on the metro ride home from the tower. Because I rarely take the metro, I got lost upon exit, at which point I was so used to being drenched that I felt dry. I just wanted to be at home – my real home. I wanted to be having wine and cheese with my girlfriends and listening to my guy friends tell me I’m too cool to be single and going on shitty dates/doing whatever needs to be done to get over this guy with my support network readily accessible in the flesh.

          When I finally found my apartment, my phone buzzed. It was Olivia texting to confirm that I hadn’t died.

          I responded, indicating that my life was still intact, before telling her what had happened and expressing that I’d rather be in Toronto than Paris. “And I think I knew that before going into this,” I said. “I wanted to quit my job and stay in Toronto, but that wasn’t acceptable to me. Why do I have to do everything the hard way?”

          “Hey, if a month in Paris is the hard way, you’re doing things well,” she assured.

          “I try,” I responded with an “lol.”

          That night, I thought the question to answer was this: Would I rather get over this guy in France or at home? Having had some time since then to process, I know that wasn’t the real question. He wasn’t the real problem. The problem was that I didn’t want to be at the Eiffel Tower. I didn’t want to be in Paris. I didn’t want to be in Europe at all. I knew that before I pushed myself here. I just didn’t listen. Your first visit to the Eiffel Tower is supposed to be magical. I get it: It’s famous. It’s flashy. It’s Parisian. But it isn’t happiness. Happiness is continuously adapting your lifestyle to your changing personal requirements for fulfillment. Therefore, the right question is always: What do I need to be happy at this point in my life?

          I’m going home.

Happiness Tip: Listen to yourself.

 
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