When I was in Paris, an ex-coworker who had relocated there invited me out to lunch. The lunch turned into a visit at her apartment, wine, more wine, then dinner, and more wine. We dined outside the Park Monceau, in her neighborhood. There was a little café she frequented. I ordered a cheese plate, she ordered a salad. We both ordered glasses of Bordeaux.
“So tell me about you, I really know nothing about you,” she said. It was true, we’d worked in the same office for the last three years, but hardly had a chance to get to know each other. I told her about growing up in Alabama, moving to New York, having a father who travelled for work but a mother who didn’t seem to want to travel. “So this is my first time in Paris,” I said.
“Do you always travel alone?” she asked.
I explained to her about my escape to London.
“So you’re a rebel?” she asked. The word “rebel” threw me off. Before that trip, my only big risks were eating chocolate out of the box without the map.
She had touched upon something I’d asked myself over and over the second I’d stepped off the plane in Paris and had a dialogue with the cabbie en Francais. I had always been the kind of girl who was afraid to do everything. Even now, my 2014 resolution is “No More Tiptoe” because I spend a lot of time tiptoeing around everyone and everything. On a date a fellow asked me what animal I would be, if I could be anything, and I told him “A rabbit, because they’re docile, quiet, obedient.”
I would never use “rebel” to describe myself.
But then again, how many last minute secret solo trips does one have to take before they can no longer consider themselves “shy” and “timid”? How much I have changed over the past few years.
That evening, following dinner, I tipsily rode the metro to the Champs Elysees at midnight. The high school version of myself would have never done this – any of it. She would have never made it to the airport to Paris, nor the plane. She would have backed out and cried about it.
I’ve been thinking about this all week. I’ve been thinking on my behavior the past few years, and thinking about that lunch.
It even manifested itself in my dreams. Last night I dreamed I’d gotten the “This Crazy Life” tattooed on my wrist. It was almost unnoticeable, but still I was upset and confused.
“At some point, I must have wanted it, right?” I kept saying to myself in my dream. Obviously, my subconscious is telling me that I’ve changed and that I have not realized it.
I spent the entire weekend alone. This was not designed. I had plans that were cancelled and rescheduled to other weekends. So I watched TV, I slept so much I thought I’d get sick from sleeping too much. I tried to write but I as too knee deep in semantics. “Rebel” “shy” otherwise. I went for coffee at my new neighborhood place, Tazso Espresso. I rode the train downtown, and lost in a fantasy, missed my stop.
Then it came to me, the lesson in this story. There is no point of fearing anything. In the future I may not fear it, in the future I may laugh in its face. So what is the point of being afraid of it now, why not speed up the time, think in the mind of the 40-year-old Ariel (scarily only ten years away now)? See past the change, be the other person? Time is arbitrary. I can’t forget that.