Every great story happened when someone decided not to give up
You may know by now, when I am excited about something, potential outfit combinations start flying. And when I’m really, really, really excited, the outfit comes to me fully formed like Athena emerging from the head of Zeus. So, I think it’s safe to say fashion is important to me and played a significant role in making my dream trip a success.
In between planning, taking French lessons, finding a place to stay, and snagging The Dress, I designed the other outfits I would traipse about Paris in. Like most women who harbor An American in Paris/Funny Face…fantasies, I envisioned balmy, cerulean skies, kitten heels (or the perfect Cuban heel), and 1950's wasp-waist dresses floating just so on a light Gallic breeze.
As one has undoubtedly read in scripture: And Then There Was The Dress. In this case several dresses, three months-worth of dresses, give or take a suitcase. My grand vision was to wear dresses and only dresses for my entire European sojourn. The Donna Karen would be the main event but I intended to make every day a combination of Monroe, Hepburn---for once I meant Audrey and not my beloved Katharine---with a healthy sprinkle of Carol Lombard and Dorothy Dandridge. Oh, and for good measure, a dash of Bette Davis in Dark Victory (The HATS!).
Sadly, as with most, my plans usually go the way of un-preserved celluloid. Friends and fur babies bid adieu, Diane von Furstenberg luggage packed, I headed off to my dream trip and seven hours later landed amidst the rainiest season Europe had seen since the fall of 2000 when historic floods rolled across the continent.
Dear Reader, it rained for days. DAYS! And I held out, resisted for days. But it was not to be. I managed to drag my soggy, bedraggled self to Harry’s Bar in the Ritz Carlton to sip a mindbogglingly expensive Stoli Martini before I finally gave up.
The next morning, I reluctantly hopped the metro for H&M where I bought a pair of jeans, black pants, and several tops, the chill and damp---the likes of which must have killed thousands during the time of Les Miz---having sunk into my bones.
Giving into the rainy weather, which was to follow me from Paris to Avignon to Sorrento, was a harbinger of things to come. But one thing I didn’t give into---at least not that day---was the despair that comes over one when carefully laid plans lay down at the feet of laughing goddesses. After a series of mishaps and the incessant inclement weather, I was struggling to retain my joy over living in Paris and had just about managed it when I lost my phone.
Just as I had never sublet an apartment abroad, I had never purchased a prepaid phone. My rudimentary French abandoning me like my ballet flats disintegrating after the twentieth puddle, it was trial by fire trying to make myself understood well enough to get the phone and not be completely ripped off.
Convinced that finally one thing had gone right, I left the mobile center with my snazzy European flip-phone (2010, people) and embarked on that day’s aimless ramble. With a full four weeks in Paris, I had freed myself from my usual to-do list and allowed myself to just absorb the city, landing wherever the day took me.
After a waterlogged, exhausting, yet gorgeous day wandering Marais, I decided to eat in and headed for the Carrefour down the street from my apartment. A bottle of wine, a wedge of cheese, asparagus, grapes, pate, and baguette in hand, I was out of the elements and home within minutes. Envisioning a lovely, simple meal and a night of writing,
I was deciding on whether I would save the asparagus for breakfast when I sat down on my borrowed bed with a thud. Where was my phone? I had intended to set it up over a cappuccino, but naturally the mulled wine had lured me into its clutches, so I hadn’t trusted myself to decipher the French instructions. But it still needed to be charged before I could tackle the directions and use it. But it was nowhere in the studio. Nowhere.
A deep despair washed over me as I realized that I had somehow lost the phone before I could take it out of the box. Losing the phone was yet another sign that my two-month dream trip was going to be anything but a dream. I sat in my rental flat fighting tears and a panicked desire to cut my losses and go home. I’m not ashamed to admit that the desire to give up almost won. But then suddenly, and to this day I do not know where it came from, a voice in my head said loud and clear,“You’re from Brooklyn. Get the fuck up and retrace your steps.” And that is exactly what I did.
I am happy to report that I found the phone, still in its box with all its packaging at the Carrefour. A store clerk had found it on the shelf above the paté soon after I left with my dinner goodies. He gave me the biggest, sweetest smile as I walked through the door. I murdered many a French adjective as I thanked him profusely.
Returning home, I prepared my lovely, simple meal---leaving the asparagus for my morning eggs---and cried into my wine. I wish I could say things went fine after this, but gentle readers, I cannot tell a lie. But I will say that the steel welded to my spine and spirit when I moved to Brooklyn at the tender age of 21 and lived to tell the tale, came in mighty handy on the streets of Paris and the alleyways of Rome.
Midwest born, west coast raised, east coast forged.
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to come back!
In the meantime, be kind to one another, keep on traveling with a feminist eye, and keep on being Feminist AF!
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