Updated: Dec 18, 2020
I started to plan Paris. The funny thing was, as I reached out to European friends telling them that I was making my dream come true, they became a part of it. And so the dream evolved: tacking on three days in Belgium to visit a friend I met in Asia, plans to dine with a Parisian I met in Costa Rica, and a German friend excited to spend three days with me in Paris, plus a day in Champagne, because YOLO. That’s the thing about dreams. Once you start to live them, other people want in. I felt a little bit like Kermit the Frog singing Rainbow Connection. That any crazy dream, even for a frog, picks up power once you set your intention. It’s not just you anymore. Bears, pigs, chickens, and whatever Gonzo is want to join because they believe in you. They believe in the dream. And mine was coming true.
At night I walked through my apartment looking for the objects de’ France I’d collected over the years. I knew where to find photo books, guidebooks, and those Anthropologie mugs I’d been drinking tea from for over a decade. But then more things started to emerge, as if they were coming out of the walls. A Monet print above my bed, French lavender soaps, and a used copy of Flaubert I bought at the library book sale years ago vowing I would only read it at a café in Paris. I had moved that Flaubert between seven apartments without ever opening it. These things had been with me for so long I barely saw them anymore. They were part of dream I let fade away because I’d waiting for the perfect time and the perfect man.
And yet, I have these things. I have enough vacation time. I have a man, who told me quietly over a bottle of Pol Roger that he didn’t really care for Champagne. When he did I was so relieved to be going to France alone. Not because I didn’t want to go to with him, but because I didn’t want to drag him to do something he didn’t want to do. And because his comment made me realize the dream was never really about him, or any man. I thought it was. But when I really thought back to my decades of Paris longings I hadn’t actually pictured myself with a man. Sure, sometimes I pictured kissing beneath the Eiffel Tower like a poster in a freshmen dorm room. But mostly I saw myself alone, walking along the Seine or writing in a café. I pictured Julia Ormond in Sabrina, “Paris is always a good idea,” or Audrey Hepburn in Charade. It had always been my dream, and to ask a man to create my dream was both foolish and unfair. Foolish to think they could manifest something I had a very specific vision of. Unfair to hold a man responsible for my happiness and to keep myself from my dream by thinking I needed someone else to make it come true. My dream never needed anyone else. It needed me to say “yes” to a thing I thought I wasn’t good enough to have. Maybe I don’t have the perfect amount of money or sex appeal for Paris. But I have enough. And I believe Paris will give back more than enough.
Who told us we need perfect timing or a perfect man to make our dreams come true? Disney? The Patriarchy? Well f*ck that noise (pardon my French). Who told us we aren’t good enough for what we want? I’m done with that nonsense. Fin. We do need a certain amount of money, but I’ve always had the money. I’ve just been afraid to spend it for fear that later there wouldn’t be enough. Why wouldn’t there be enough? We create the “enough.” It doesn’t create us. And I’m done with that too.
The other week I went back to the audiologist to have my hearing rechecked, post-Prednisone. I hadn’t had as much hearing trouble since going off it, but I wanted the numbers as proof. This audiologist’s office was at a different location. So instead of being asked to press a button every time I heard a tone like before, I had to say “yes”—out loud in a small room observed through a window by the audiologist. The tones started coming clearly and then faded, but they were still audible. So I said “yes” over and over again. Yes to Flaubert in cafes. Yes to expensive macarons, gateau, and mille-feuille. Yes to strolling the Seine. Yes to leaning over Pont Neuf, journal in hand. Yes to green benches in green parks. Yes to looking out Haussmann balconies at the Eiffel Tower. Yes to runny cheese and chilled rosé. Yes to Montmartre and St. Germain. Yes to the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, and Sacre Coeur. Yes to Breton stripe shirts and scarves around my neck. Yes to the Amelie soundtrack running through my head. Yes to my flat around the corner from Hemingway’s apartment and Baudelaire’s grave. Yes to my dream. I could hear everything—including my own voice—clearly now. And it said, “Go to Paris.”