Here is a playlist of the classics and current hits heard on my weekend in Paris in February, 2010. Hope you enjoy it, too!
HarVVardFebruary 24, 2019
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
4 AM-7 AM
My mom Sandra helped me with last-minute details, however trivial or important as they seemed, in my preparation for my first Paris (experience) and first-ever solo trip to Europe, whether it was seeing to it that I made a couple copies of my flight itinerary/hotel reservations to give my (of course) family some peace of mind or suggesting that I take all the adapters to my domestic/international phones and digital camcorder, which would surely power up mine. As Mom needled, nudged, nagged, and nurtured me in those three hours of another windy, snowy Chicago morning (and I assure you, one and all, that the start of the day was nothing but a sprinkle of Camille Pisarro flurries befalling the gargantuan sheets of ice on the walks and streets), she planted a few kernels of hard-earned knowledge in my head and heart, hoping that her own impressions of Paris would inspire me further to discover her charm and beauty for myself and cement me in the proper mindset, an attitude of self-accountability befitting a man--a forty-one-year old man who will take on the world for the first time. In twenty years. But alone.
Alone. The sound of this lost, lonely, and little word is anything but encouraging, but it can be big, bold, brave, defiant, and resourceful if you choose to take a Metra across the street from your house and leave it to board a CTA Blue Line from Jackson to O'Hare International Airport. Just as I did. This morning. With my American Tourister, my best friend for the next five days.
When I walked inside the 103rd/Beverly Metra station to delight in the inviting warm air and high spirits in a conversation with two lovely, older Sisters (African-American women) in our seats, it occurred to me just how much of an adventurer and free spirit Alone was and how beautiful and free a spirit it had. When I told Cathy and her friend that I was going to enjoy my first Parisian adventure (and of course, my first-ever solo to another country), they congratulated me with smiles, laughter, and good wishes, knowing that it is the chance of a lifetime to visit what is reportedly the culture capital of the world, let Alone doing it with loved ones. Until our Nine Twenty charged through the soft, falling snow, greeting four passengers-in-waiting with a wave of fine, powdery white winter behind it, I told the ladies that I would spend the next few days contemplating and dining in her cafes, commingling and dreaming in her museums, and commuting and divulging (indulging) in the hustle, bustle, bump, and grind on her trains, doing my best not to get picked. And before I boarded the Nine Twenty to Nirvana, or at least my temporary escape from my job, concerns, and responsibilities here at home, I promised Cathy that I would return this upcoming Tuesday with a nice little reminder of my Paris for her, whether it's a menu, a museum floor plan, or a bookmark. But with the mind I have, anything's possible.
Surely, a ride to the LaSalle Metra station and a walk with my American Tourister downtown in the wind and snow wasn't a big deal because I do it every day. All the time. But when I was Alone...in myself...in action, converting 20 euros in notes into coins for the RER and taking the Blue Line from the Jackson Street subway to O'Hare on the West Side, only for me to ascend the escalators to a couple of epic student-produced morals (murals) and plenty of signage directing me to Terminal 2 on the second floor, I realized that I took my independence...and my growing confidence from what I've always heard and seen...for granted. Riding behind a couple deeply in love before they got off on Cumberland on the Blue Line, I cautioned myself to stay vigilant of my surroundings, my body language, my speech...and my money...at all times, fully aware that I would be completely on my own.