Oct 15th, 2008:
How exhausting travel is. After my first day I landed back on my own bed having spent a 5 hours fiasco at Grand Junction’s Walker non-international Airfield. Amazing the impact a low tire can make on dozen and dozens of travelers and their ticket agents. For me a $450 lesson on booking a multi-flight trip on separate airlines through on-line air-savers. A 5am start the next day resulted in a 19-hour trans-Atlantic excursion to the City of Lights. Waiting there to rescue me was my guide and heroine, the greatest local savior since the divinely guided sword swinging 17-year-old Jeanne d’Arc. Florence d’France, with baggage tote and Metro tickets, swept me safely off under the gray and moist skies of Paris.
My first impression of Paris- graffiti and small cars. The mopeds gangs were highlighted by a slightly round businessman sporting tie and pink helmet zipping off on electric power. The automobile-ego of America lost on these streets. I, continually amazed by the masses of motorcycles parked or patrolling, hovering at lights anticipating acceleration. And pedestrians right of ways don’t apply for any longer than it takes to swerve around them. Large city buses and power-encouraged bicyclists, a most inauspicious duo, share the same slim lane and fight equally to funnel through narrowing intersections. I wouldn’t dare compete on one of the magnetically protected rent-a-bikes that sit in available rows about every third block. On the streets of Paris, be wary or be flat. Stick to the sticky and follow the letters, numbers, and colors of the Metro.
The first tourist-significant stop for this green shoe was the Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris. The immediate grandeur and age of the structure was awe-ing. In the states there’s really no historically significant perspective to prepare for such a sight. The bricks patched together in the ceiling were there before Columbus was born. The stained-glass mosaics span higher than the steeples of our largest churches and the cobblestone floors tell grander stories than the imaginative Victor Hugo. It was easy to feel how the eerie, dank, and strangely peaceful environment has inspired connection to greater forces for so many decades.
My own inspiration flowed stronger at the Bosilique Du Sacre Coeur where we walked in midway on a mass. It could have been the inebriating affects of the five-pitch climb up the steps of Montmartre Hill following the first long day of foot stomping, the 30th hour of awakening (not counting the two and a half hours of crumbly sleep on the airplane), and the French gibberish that had been bouncing around my brain all day, but when Florence smudged my forehead with the local holy water my 3rd eye began buzzing. I sat to take in the sensations and sounds: my own vibrations, the choir of nuns channeling angels, the figure of a golden aura Jesus high and mightily above looking me directly in the eyes. Only the small throngs of oblivious tourists being scolded by a cock-eyed Indian church worker reminded me of where I was. It took the grounding affect of the night air, lighted Paris landscape, long stroll down, and my second Nutella-filled crepe of the day to bring me back to the hard earth of the Paris streets.
The relief of finally finding my pillow was obscured by my inexplicable inability to fall asleep. I realized it was two in the afternoon back home but I was convinced I could psychologically outsmart jetlag and had been working on it since before I left. I had fallen asleep on the bus, the metro (twice), and in the pews of both churches. The park bench feel of the soft sheets and mattress finally subsided around a day and a half of open eyes and sleep led to a zombified revival the next morning. Oh ya, I was in Paris!