Remnants of Paris

May 7, 2015 by

“The more I look around, the more you’re not beside me now, making me a lonesome clown. The more I look into the crowd, the more I feel alone. Alone. Alone. Alone.”

Alone, Yodelice

 

          A few days ago, I stumbled upon my video of Les Aristo’ singing Yodelice’s Alone outside the Louvre. I hadn’t listened to it since early November, shortly after my return from Paris. It’s incredible how much memory music can hold. Sometimes I can hear the first note of a song and recall its associations before I can identify the song itself. Also impressive is the intensity with which feelings can be attached to sound.

          As soon as the cover began, the loneliness I felt in Paris filled my ears. I thought I remembered the feeling. I thought I remembered being sad. I embarked on what I expected to be my dream trip, cried at the Eiffel Tower upon delayed and inconvenient realization that I had no chance with the guy I wanted, left my support network an ocean and a six-hour time difference away, and decided to cut my trip short. Of course I remembered, I thought. But until I heard the music, I hadn’t. I hadn’t remembered how lonely, how sad. Thus, I didn’t realize the extent of how far I’ve come. I’ve certainly made more progress than I’ve given myself credit for.

          Naturally, as I listened to the song that brought Paris to mind, I began contemplating the difference between then and now. It has little to do with my location or my friends or the guy. More so, it’s the result of a change in mindset. I had Europe under a lot of pressure. Truthfully, I had Europe under a lot of pressure from the moment I decided to make it happen. Two years ago, my life was in urgent need of change. I expected that Europe would be my vehicle for bringing about that change, as I didn’t yet know the wonders I would do for myself by simply changing my perspective. That expectation of Europe took up camp in the back of my mind and stayed there. Although, by the time I boarded my plane, I no longer felt the need for Europe to change me because I loved the life I was living, I still felt like my trip was supposed to be this climatic turning point. I felt like something was supposed to come out of it: more writing than usual, a second language, an idea of what I wanted next, something – something more than new places seen.

          I repeatedly pleaded with myself to live in Paris while I had Paris to live in, but my head wasn’t there. I was holding on to the expectation that travel changes a person, despite not even wanting to be changed. I just felt like I was supposed to be, like that’s what – ugh, I hate that I’m about to write this – other people expect of you when you quit your job and get on a plane. I guess I felt the need to prove that quitting and travelling is worth the risk to those who are too afraid to do it. As a result of that expectation, I anxiously wondered what was next instead of living the experience.

          Consequently, I got home feeling little gain beyond a new passport stamp. I couldn’t see then what Paris had given me, but in coping with the reality of that trip, I learned things about myself that I didn’t know before. And so, I came to realize that I did get something out of Paris. I got more out of Paris than I could have imagined. What I got just wasn’t what I expected.

Happiness Tip: Go in without expectations.

 
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