The flight from DFW to Paris flew by. Before Joy and I even knew it we had touched down at Charles de Gaulle Airport to start our journey across Europe. We were so excited about our upcoming trip that we were five hours into our flight before we stopped talking and then realized when we arrived in Paris it would be 9:30 am and neither of us would have slept in 30 hours. We tried to fall asleep for a couple of hours before we landed but had only drifted off maybe 45 minutes when the wheels hitting the pavement literally jolted us awake.
We landed and although we were tired we were overjoyed that we could immediately explore Paris. Because both of us decided to travel so lightly (each of us only brought a carry on bag) we were very nimble going through customs and we quickly made our way to the train station so that we could catch the Metro to the Left Bank of Paris.
In America, people always say the French hate us. I have never found that to be the case. I find the French people to be incredibly accommodating if, as an American, you treat them politely AND make even the slightest attempt to speak their language. The French really don't ask much. Give the most feeble attempt to speak their language, a simple "bon jour" usually suffices, followed by a sheepish shoulder shrug that says, "Sorry, I tried learning your language on Rosetta Stone but after three lessons I kind of gave up", and soon some kind French person will come to your rescue and give you the help that you so desperately need.
I love the French people because almost every man, woman and child that you ask, "Do you speak English?" will invariably say, "Very little English" and then follow it with the most intensely elegant directions to whatever attraction you are seeking, complete with directional advice. The French have a much different idea of what it means to NOT speak a foreign language than an American does. When an American says they don't speak French they literally mean that outside of ordering french fries they don't speak one word of French. When a French person claims to not speak English they mean that they aren't entirely certain how to avoid dangling a participle. These are categorically different abilities that are the equivalent of comparing Baryshnikov's dancing ability to that of Carleton on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
So, when Joy and I landed we weren't sure which train to take to get to the left bank but it wasn't a problem because right there in front of the Metro ticket machine stood a wonderfully kind French man whom greeted us when we said, "Bon jour" and then we apologetically shrugged our shoulders and held up three fingers indicating how many lessons we completed on Rosetta Stone before surrendering to the challenge. This lovely man simply smiled at us and said, "Buy a ticket to Paris. The train leaves out of platform 11 and 12."
"Merci!" I responded proudly. My $350 Rosetta Stone investment now seemed so worth it.
"That was easy," Joy exclaimed.
She was excited, it was her birthday and there was little that was going to dim the light that was coming off of her. This was the last year of her twenties and she fully planned to make the best of this final year.
Joy and I bought our tickets and headed to platform 11 and 12 and then we waited with excitement for our train to arrive. It finally approached and when it stopped we hopped on and decided we would head to Luxembourg Gardens, or as the French call it; Jardin du Luxembourg. Everything the French say sounds just a touch more romantic and sexy than the way we Americans speak but America still has the Grand Canyon, the Yankees, and the Statue of Liberty (I know, the French gifted us that in 1886 but she still sits in our Harbor).
The Left Bank will always be my favorite part of Paris. It is filled with uniquely rich characters and if you are present and keep a trained eye you can always discover something or someone who captures humanity in a glance. There is an energy that surrounds the Gardens that can't be described without actually being in its space. People talk over coffee, runners cascade through the Gardens at a marathon pace, lovers drink wine and picnic on blankets and young people play frisbee and hackey sack while older people seem to sit silently taking it all in as they bask in the twilight of their years.
Yes, Paris is for lovers but Paris is also for the single soul that hasn't found that twin flame yet. Paris is for artists and poets and musicians and mystics and especially for those that want to feel just one small tablespoon of her magic. Paris takes all comers and if you can find a way to allow her to guide you she will fulfill you in ways no other city can.
Paris makes you want to try just a little bit harder to show the world that that light inside of you is still twinkling and may soon become a shining light that illuminates the world.
On this night, Paris brought the rain. Paris brought the stop lights that gleamed off of her wet streets creating a kaleidescope of colors that could awe even the most hardened soul.
This is why Joy and I started in Paris. Paris never disappoints. She is a constant in the world of love and just when you think she can't wow you any more she shows you that this old lady will always have what it takes to be the world's most romantic city.
We planned only to stay the one night because in the morning a coin toss would decide our next adventure. As Joy and I sat looking out after our early dinner we were and are so thankful for everything we have been given. Sometimes we feel like we need to pinch ourselves.
This is what living a life of kindness brings to a person. We are kind and then kindness finds us. We say goodnight to Paris and in the morning a new inspriation awaits.