The distinct piano notes, interrupted by beats and lyrics, carried a clear message through the dimly lit Parisian apartment. “Let’s have a toast for the assholes. Let’s have a toast for the scumbags…Runaway as fast as you can. Runaway from them, Baby. Runaway.”
I may not have run fast, but more than one person I met, in the City of Love, asked, “Paris is a far trip for a weekend, no?” I shrugged while my friend Phil, the Australian who lived in what everyone said to be a ‘dodgy neighborhood’ responded with the crowd hushing statement; “She’s a flight attendant.”
To this, I would half-smile and nod. The people would then subtly sigh with relief. There was now a way to ‘box me,’ as well as develop their curious follow-up questions. “Is it fun? Do you like it? Where do you usually fly?” I’m not sure flight attendants appreciate the standard roulette of party questions on the average, but in this instance, I did. It was the ‘dodge’ around what brought me to Paris.
So, why Paris? Well, it’s complicated, or maybe, it’s simple, really. Paris seemed like a good idea. Paris seemed like it would be a safe place due to the friends who I know there. It felt like it could be the distraction, perspective, and new beginning I needed. It felt better than staying home and crying a lot like I did last week.
I told someone last week, “Please. Do NOT contact me anymore.” For the woman who has many words and adores deep written explanations for everything, in a very uncharacteristic way, the ending to what I didn’t know how to end, finally stopped in cold, hard silence— via a three-sentence email. “I love you. I’m sorry. Don’t talk to me anymore.” The person in question didn’t send this, but I did. Go ahead. Judge me. It’s harsh and hurt inducing. “It’s a sad end to a sad love story,” my friend Keri stated in accurate simplicity. It’s crazy how, in about three-seconds— friendships that have taken months or years to build can be completely crushed, closed, and over. In moments, maybe that is the only way.
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It takes longer than three seconds, more cities than just Paris, and more words than I have to heal the disappointments that a heart can feel. It takes what I cannot not create. It takes the support of friends that know and understand. It takes reminding myself that I have loved before and it does get better. It takes remembering how broken my ankle was and how healed it can become. It takes knowing that time is magic, and magic is always available for those who hope.
Naturally, the only viable solution for a flight attendant in heartache seemed like Paris. There are times that I don’t travel or write because it’s the healthiest option for my soul, but I travel and write as it feels like the only option. Travel and writing are the ways that I deal with what I don’t know how to deal with. Travel is the puzzle piece that I use to put myself together again after experiencing a setback, heartbreak, or even a success. Writing is the quiet reflection that reminds me to be patient and calm amidst wherever I land. These two intangibles have become my tangible saving grace; maybe like one-person’s alcohol or another’s workout obsession.
And then, there is the tangible necessity of friendships. Katy, Phil, Jasmine, Keri, Meghan, Courtnie, Sara, and many others have showed up when I needed them and continue to show up. There was something about the moment of waiting, bewildered at Gard du Nord station, out of place in a sea of ethnicity, when Phil grabbed my shoulder and engulfed me in a safe and secure hug. Making champagne toasts to Kanye late into the evenings, drinking coffees, and distracting my sadness to the tales of Mona Lisa’s fame and Notre Dame’s spire. He in all of his intense opinions and determined nature made me see that I will be just fine again. Yes— thank you for Paris, and thank you for accepting me at less than my best.
I’m not saying that I am not happy. I literally have my dream job and dream life right now. Happy and heartache do, and will, coexist. I can’t jet away from my feelings, as it’s actually impossible to check love in with your overstuffed suitcase or lose your baggage as quickly as an airline can. But, I think when you find yourself in a phase of letting go and being brave (not that I’m advising emails as the best form of communication or courage), celebrate that by fostering those areas in your life that make you feel alive and complete. “Courtnie, I don’t know how to get through break ups. And, fuck. It wasn’t even a “real relationship.” How do you do it? How do you move on?” “Well,” she stated simply. “Dating more doesn’t actually help. You just have to do things for you. Do all the things that make you happy.”
I guess in that case, ‘Paris is always a good idea.”