I’ve spent 12 years dreaming. The last 4 of those years I spent doing. After my mom died when I was 15, I became infatuated with the idea of Paris. “Paris,” my mom used to say, “is it. Paris is where you find it.” Sometimes i thought that “it” meant love. Her stories of living in Paris always involved love in some way. Other times i thought that maybe “it” was happiness, and i made the mistake of using them interchangeably and my mom told me otherwise.
“If we have my party at the new pool, then that can be my ‘it’,” I had told my mom.
“What do you mean ‘your it’?”
“You know, ‘it’, my happiness,” I said unsure.
“When I talk about finding ‘it’ in Paris, I’m not saying happiness for a reason. I’m not in Paris right now, nor have I been in years, and I’m still happy. You give me happiness. ‘It’ is so much more. When you find ‘it’, you’ll know.” She almost never gave me straight answers.
For the past 4 years, I’ve been working my butt off, day and night, to be where I am now. Or where I will be in roughly 8 hours. The plane’s taking off and I can feel the pit in my stomach just like on my 13th birthday. When the fair happened to land right on my birthday, so my mom agreed to take me instead of having a party. I had never been on any rides before and all of my friends gave me a hard time for it. My mom was always the brave type and occasionally it would rub off on me.
“Do you wanna start off with the zipper?” She pointed to the scariest ride on the plot. The screams that came from it were the loudest.
“You betcha,” I said with a grin, trying to cover up my fear.
While waiting in line, my mom told me another one of her Paris stories, I think to distract my nerves.
“It was the macaroons. The macaroons weren’t ‘it’, but the second I bit into it, I knew I had come to the right place. Macaroons have the power to change your life.”
We were at the front of the line then and it was our turn to go in the “cage”. I was absolutely terrified and wasn’t trying to hide it anymore. My mom just grabbed my hand and told me to enjoy the ride. For the majority of the ride i had my eyes closed and wouldn’t stop screaming in fear. Towards the end though, I found myself opening my eyes, enjoying the ride like my mom told me to. What I’m feeling right now on the plane is nothing like that. I’m feeling no fear, just pure hope.
The pilot just announced that we’re going to be landing soon. I can feel my nerves start up with the thought that my dream was finally going to be realized. It still hasn’t hit me that I’m out of the states. It’s really early and the sun hasn’t made its way up yet, so I can’t tell if France looks any different than everything else I’ve seen. All I brought with me is a backpack with a few outfits and the essentials, and only enough money to get me through a month or two. It’s safe to say I’m a bit nervous.
The plane lands and I get out and head towards my hotel for the night. Walking through the airport, not much seems to be different. If I was a little more tired, I might even mistake it for an American airport. The only thing different with the hotel is that they spoke French. I don’t know what I expected for getting there before the city had a chance to wake up, but this isn’t it. I’m setting my alarm for early tomorrow so I can get on my way to finding “it”.
The sun is shining and I already have my outfit picked out for my first full day in the city of my dreams. First on my list is to eat a macaroon. Once I do that, then I’ll move into my apartment.
I left the hotel before getting directions to a macaroon shop, so I tried to ask a passerby. People here aren’t like the people back in the Midwest. I tapped a lady on the shoulder and asked her where a macaroon shop was. I asked in English because I didn’t want to mess up with my rusty high school French. The lady just gave me a look and kept walking. Back home, I couldn’t ever image someone being so openly rude to me. I decided to keep walking until I happened upon a treats shop in the busier part of the city.
As I opened the door, the scents overtook me. It smelt like all the stories my mom used to tell me. There’s so many different macaroon flavors, I don’t know which one to choose. My eye catches on a light blue one. I tell the guy behind the counter that I’ll take it. He grabs it for me and rings it up without even a smile. This isn’t exactly what I imagined France to be like, but I still have plenty of hope.
I’m waiting to eat my macaroon until after I get to my apartment. It’s not too far from the treat shop so I get there in no time. The first thing I notice when I get through my door is the view. It’s not special or anything. Most of the view is just the apartments across the streets but above that is Paris. Simple as that. The second thing I notice when I get there is how small it is. It’s a good size for one person, but it was just one big bedroom and a bathroom. It gave me the vibes of a college dorm. I guess it’s worth it to be in Paris.
Tomorrow I have to start work and I don’t have a bed or anything so I’’ll be sleeping on the ground with my bag as a pillow tonight. I think that’s cause for a treat and I have a macaroon just dying to be eaten. The first bite I took was great. It didn’t make me feel whatever my mom said she felt, but it was good. By the time I was finished though, it was just a cookie to me.
I’ve been living in Paris for a few months now. I still haven’t found “it” and I haven’t seen or done everything that I wanted to. Work is exactly that: work. It’s so much harder than I could’ve ever imagined, and I come home completely exhausted. After I get enough money and get on my feet, I’ll find another job. My apartment isn’t exactly what I think of when I hear the word home. After sleeping on the floor for a while longer, I bought a bed and some blankets. Besides that it’s still pretty empty. When I’m home and I’m not sleeping, i just look out the window. It’s still the same beautiful and simple view, but sometimes, just sometimes, I wish it would snow.