Last summer as I blew out my 63 birthday candles, I decided to figure out, STAT, what I wanted to do in the time I have left. I need to front load the next ten years with any adventures that require good health and working vision. Or kiss them goodbye. Not taking aging into account is a decision too.
I’ve been saying for the last decade, ‘I’m going while my knees can still bend and my eyes can still see.” I was kind of kidding. Not any more. But why Paris?
In 2007 I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art for five uninterrupted days, with an afternoon detour to the Frick. It was a delicious experience, a painter’s dream. I had the time of my life. I left Manhattan on fire with the idea of spending a month at the Louvre. But life got in the way, the dream languished and eventually faded. Whenever my desire to immerse myself in the Louvre surfaced, I’d think of all the reasons it was not a good idea. The expense, my lack of French, the debilitating stress of a transcontinental flight, the challenge of finding a dogsitter, the physical demands of walking all day, and the risks of traveling solo while both elderly and female.
Plus, Paris and I have a complicated relationship. I lived there in the early seventies, a young and heedless hippie-turned-model. I see Paris as imperious, temperamental, supremely egotistical, casually mendacious and a oui bit on the cynical side. And yet, she is heartbreakingly beautiful and brave. I left her for London. I’ve made a few visits in the subsequent decades and we reached a détente, but we are both wary.
What turned me around was reading a throwaway line of a minor character in a romance novel, who says she wants to see Paris once again before she dies. Mind you, she is robust, bossy woman, who makes this statement to get her own way.
It resonated. What I realized is it doesn’t matter whether or not the trip is all I want it to be. I don’t want to look back in ten years and think, I wish I had gone, but I let my doubts and fears stop me. I may or may not love the experience that awaits me, but I will for sure regret not making this trip. By the act of going, it’s already a win.