On Monday, Expedia invited me to write about Paris and my memories of visiting there when I was younger. I wrote the post and had it ready to post on Tuesday morning. I’ve held it back until this morning and mulled all week about my feelings regarding travel, anxiety and living life without fear. The end of the post had already been written and the events of this week have consolidated my much evolved feelings about not letting anxiety shape the experience of my life. It’s more important than ever to get out there and live, visit and be; that’s the only real resistance.
More than 30 years ago, my sister spent a summer term doing a junior school project on Paris . I was insanely jealous of this, since by then I was firmly ensconced in senior school grammar and Latin and maths that made me cry. Since it was long before the days of the internet – and we really were not a public library sort of family – she and my parents wrote off to embassies and tourism boards and packages full of information and pictures and exotic places to visit came back. I remember trying so hard to do something similar myself but homework and school just interfering too much. So I watched her scrapbook pages full of the Eiffel Tower and pictures of delicious French cuisine in pretty pavement cafes and got back to my essay writing and comprehensions.
When we started home educating, it was one of the memories of engaged education that called to me and we went in for immersive projects like that as much as we could. Of course by then the internet made hunting for information and pictures much easier. I’m not sure if we ever indulged much in a Paris focused frenzy of learning but if we had, I’d have known far more about it since I had my (one time only) trip there with my family when I was a teenager. We did a couple of touring holidays in the summer which took in as many cities in as many European countries as we could manage and Paris was one of our stopovers. I remember wandering through the streets of Montmartre, revelling in the ornamental houses and the faded glory of the winding streets. It was a hot couple of days and even the Metro seemed alien compared to the familiar grimy comfort of our aging Underground, people playing music inside the trains and a cheerful busker confidently asking people to contribute for his time. The clearest memory I have – we saw a lot of cities in a very short time – is of climbing the steps of the Sacre Coeur, baked white and glaring in the heat and testing my far from fit young body to the hilt and feeling like I had climbed pretty much to the top of the world by the time we reached the summit. Turning round to lean against the wall and survey Paris below us, I was stunned to see the Eiffel Tower looming so far above the minimised flat of the city. I had no idea it was so tall!
Paris has had its pain in the last year, but Amelie visited last summer – on the hottest day of the year when the temperature spiked over 43c, which undoubtedly dwarfs the heat of my visit! – and had a wonderful time. Her school took her to Notre Dame, “pretty!” in her eloquent words where she was moved enough to light a candle for her brother, and peeped at the glass pyramid of the Louvre. She climbed to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower (”quite high enough, thank you very much!”) and experienced a French supermarket just for the heck of a different shopping experience. Naturally, of course the highlight was the day trip to Parc Asterix and the *insert sarcastic face* marvellous winning of a life sized tiger toy!
Over the last few months I’ve been learning to face some fears and anxieties and quite close to the top of my list now is going on the Eurotunnel. Paris is the obvious destination, somewhere Max and I have never been together. I’m not going to let anything stop me.