Coming from the subterranean Metro tracks I was giddy and love-struck the moment the gilded monuments of Paris revealed themselves rising into the sky. There have been very few moments that I have felt that crazed excitement of a new place. My friends leased their flat to me for a few weeks on a lively corner of Rue de Cheronne and Rue Keller in the 11th Arrondisement and I was enchanted with the idea of life as a Parisian.
My mom spent the first 4 days with me in true Charlotte style, keeping us busy. I loved Paris with her. Museums, galleries, parks, palaces, cafes and picnics. She really is one my favorite travel companions.
When she left, I continued to explore the city although the connections and conversations with Parisians were few and far between. I took the train up to Montmartre and decided to “treat myself” (a terrible justification that gained me 10 lbs. over the next few months). I sat down at the bar of a beautiful restaurant with a glass of wine and a gorgeous coq au vin. I started chatting with the only other person sitting at the bar, Remy, an artist who grew up in the neighborhood and he would show me the real Paris.
This meant we walked across the street to station ourselves at the outdoor café, the chairs strategically set for people-watching, ordering a bottle of rose, then another and another. Smoking cigarettes in the same fashion. His friends were painters, writers, musicians – people that were interesting, clever, friendly and willing to speak English with me around. They would breeze in, have a meet, drink and smoke and head on their way.
Coming back from the toilet, Remy’s day drinking cheer had spun into wine-infused fury and my new friend was starting to cause some trouble. The waitress pulled me aside and told me it was time for me to get away from this guy as this is not uncommon behavior for my new friend.
Oh, shit. I’m completely pissed. I have no clue where the train station is and the advice I had been given was not to wander Montmartre at night. My panic came in the form of tears. Drunk American girl crying on the street of Paris, can I be anymore cliche???
The solitude in the apartment gave me comfort; the hangover gave me introspection and uncertainty about travelling solo. That ‘what the f***’ anxiety would lurk in the dark corners whenever I had a crap day over the next few months.
I slid out of bed, showered, adorned a pair of dark sunnies and I knew the only way to recover from this feeling was to “treat myself” with sushi, an ice cream bar and the green space of the Jardin de Luxemburg.
The Takeaway: When feeling lonely it is good to be gentle with yourself. A space in nature in a hectic city helps ground me. A place to breathe, reflect and address what brought on these feelings. A safe place to appreciate the experiences you are making for yourself and shifting your perspective. A quiet place where you can be at ease alone to sit and read a book, do some yoga, go for a walk, listen to music or eat ice cream. And remember the loneliness is transient when you treasure your own company.