Paris: When a Pipe Dream Becomes a One-Way Ticket

Paris: When a Pipe Dream Becomes a One-Way Ticket
Paris. City of Lights. I craved you since before I met you, and from the very moment I first breathed you into my lungs, my simple infatuation turned into an unconditional, eternal love affair.
When I had to leave, I took part of you with me, and simultaneously left a piece of myself behind, with you.
I knew I had to return. I could never give you up. I’ve never forgotten. And I’ve dreamt of you relentlessly.
It was mostly a pipe dream, at first: Being able to spend longer than a week at a time with you. I teased about leaving my comfort zone behind, in order to reunite with you. I joked about packing and leaving, making you mine.
“It would be nice,” I would think to myself. “But I can’t.”
Doing so would require me to divorce all sense of safety and familiarity. So instead, for some time, I doused the most passionate fire I had ever known, in fear of getting burned.
But a spark always remained.
When it comes to romance, timing is everything. The perfect One, at the wrong time, is not perfect. It’s the most cliché tragedy of all.
But Paris, I’m patient. I’ve waited for you, and you’ve waited for me, too. You’ve always been there, and I’ve always been yours.
And now I’m ready to commit.

The Beginning

It was Spring Break of March 2016. My best friend since childhood was spending the semester studying abroad in Marseille, FR, and I was itching to visit. At this point in time, I had never been anywhere east of the Caribbean, and had spent all of adulthood working an extremely stressful, high-pressure finance job. For most of that time, I resided 50-70 hours per week in a windowless basement cubicle, with minimal traveling and chronic fatigue.
In January of 2016, I returned to school to finish my undergraduate degree. I was working at the same company, except only part-time, and with less responsibility. For the first time in forever, I had no strings attached, and therefore it was easier to take off.
After two short weeks of contemplation, and absolutely zero details planned due to the stress of midterms, I found myself sleepless and alone on a redeye flight, cramped in a tiny, United Airlines Economy seat.
Destination: Paris. I had no idea what I was in for.

The Moment of Truth

A photo taken the moment I exited the Paris metro for the first time.

I asked my best friend to meet me at the airport and escort me to our Airbnb. He declined, stating that I was a grown woman and needed to figure it out for myself. At the time, I was offended. In hindsight, I’m so glad he forced that on me. Unbeknownst to me, that statement would become my anthem.
Sleep-deprived, I deliriously waited 2 hours to get through customs, clumsily navigated the metro, and lugged my overpacked, totally impractical suitcase up and down multiple flights of stairs (Paris hasn’t heard of escalators).
Never in my life had I felt so foreign. Confused, frustrated, and exhausted, I eventually made it to my final stop, and climbed the last flight of stairs leading me out of the underground metro.
The moment I exited the station, a hazy overcast halo shown like a ray from heaven, crisp winter air kissed my cheeks, and through a window in a café to my left, I spotted the only familiarity in sight: my bestie awaiting my arrival with a hot café au lait. I was instantly invigorated. I never will forget the pure rush and enamor.
I was forever changed.

The Lesson

The first time I went to Paris, I was looking only for vacation, but ended up leaving with much more: a sense of self.
The French value family, take pride in simplicity, and refuse to overwork themselves into oblivion. They’ve mastered balance, and rank the journey higher than the achievement itself.
Paris in particular embodies those values, while maintaining its reputation as arguably the chicest metropolitan city in the world.
This spoke to my soul. The French way of life made me question everything I was doing, and everything I’d ever known. A new home was discovered. I returned to D.C. with a small hole in my heart from the piece I left behind in those narrow streets… knowing full well I’d be back to retrieve it.
After over a year, I’ve decided it’s time for me to reclaim that missing part of myself.

The News

At the end of this month, June 2017, I’m embarking on the journey of a lifetime: I’m moving to Paris solo, in order to resume my relationship with the most magical love I’ve ever known.
During my upcoming 2 months living as a Parisienne, I will be intensively learning both the French language, and my soul’s language. I’m abandoning my safety net in exchange for full immersion into a brand new way of life.
If you are still reading, thank you for your precious time. I’m so excited to have launched this platform – Only Wear Dresses – to share my lifestyle, travels, and transformation with you. Thank you for being here to share these moments with me, and I hope they can be of inspiration to you. Much love to you all.
xx, Lena
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