I clutched the folded map I've had since the last time I was here, about a year ago now. I am not a big souvenir nut, but this metro map I've kept perhaps with the unintentional foresight that I would make it back. I stared outside the window of the moving train and quietly observed everyday life blurring by. Stop and go, the train went. Hop on. Hop off. Life's transcience couldn't be more evident than this moment. I watched people go about their errands, their mundane daily existence of getting to work, picking up children, going to the store. I realize this is what I tend to do here - watch with such sharp acuity. I am an observer and this is my element when I'm outside peering in, often unnoticed.
As the train makes its approach into the City, the stops are sounding more familiar. And I get butterflies in my stomach. I had to suppress my grin. I never fathomed that one day, I would know this City so personally and intimately, enough to get by alone.
I have always felt a strange comfort in traveling alone. I muse on how many women would be petrified at the thought of traveling solo on a train, in a foreign country, where I barely speak the language. But I've done this plenty enough to know and trust that the world is still a safe place. Besides, I am just thrilled - thrilled - that I am having this experience.
I dreamed this once. But here I am yet again, living the dream, a year later.
I squared my shoulders and prepared to step out into the sun. I know exactly where I am and where to go. And this time I let the silly grin go.
I can't help it. I am in Paris.