Paris was magic. Pure magic bottled for 25 years that was gifted to me as our plane touched the tarmac at Charles de Gaulle airport. She caught my soul by the seams and dangled me in front of everything that could be. Maybe my trip was a combination of birthday magic and inexplicable blessings, but it was everything I could have imagined and much, much more.
I can’t begin to imagine how I was lucky enough to have met people who helped reminded me of who I am. Who told me I should go for the things that I can’t live without, who showed me that it was really okay to not have it all figured out, and whose fears mirrored my own.
The funny thing about traveling alone is that you’re never really alone. The people you meet along the way will stick with you forever. The words they whisper to you at 4 in the morning will singe your skin in order to warm your soul. Maybe it’s because they see you better than you see yourself. I know it sounds crazy, but when you’re out in the world and sharing your deepest fears with someone who barely knows you, well, they see it all. They see what you try so hard to hide from everyone else. They see what matters. And the truth is that the pretty rooftop views will always be there. The buildings will stand tall and maintenance will continue as they mop floors and sweep alleyways, but there will only be ghosts left of the people you met. Chances are you won’t see them in that exact same spot again, if ever. Your words will linger forever in the air, but your presence will be gone. So this is for them – the people from all over the world who became a part of my journey.
Santiago – a guy from Argentina who told me that on the first day of his journey he cried his eyes out in a room full of people asleep around him because he was scared that he made the wrong choice – he was on month 5 when I met him.
Sabry – a natural born Parisian who told me I was crazy for leaving Florida and had a laugh that was as infectious as it was genuine.
Joao – a California born guy that has lived everywhere (I mean basically everywhere) and who insisted “if not now, then when?” and he was right.
Paris might have just been a moment, but it was the exact moment I needed and for that I am grateful. It was like a drive-in movie of what I wanted my life to be like and the ending credits were just a list of reasons it still could be exactly that. Paris made me feel more me.
I stayed awake all night and watched American cartoons in a hostel lobby at 6am. I ate leftover pastries at 4 in the morning from a baker down the road. And on that same night, I ate too much chocolate candy, drank hot chocolate, and used endless amounts of SnapChat filters.
To the people who were with me in Paris: thank you, both individually and collectively, from the bottom of my very full heart. Thank you for allowing me to be me, for reminding me why I started this journey, for teaching me so much in so little time, for pushing me to chase after my unspoken dreams, and for appreciating who I am as I am.