01 November 2010

Forty-Seven Days

My stomach feels funny when I think about how few weeks I have left.  Rather than reading a long rambling post about about how unsettled that fact makes me feel, how would you like to hear about my holiday?

Last Friday I officially finished the academic half of my program here in Paris.  Unfortunately, all three of my finals were on the same day.  Fortunately, they were not too horrible.  I shudder to think of the mistakes I made on my grammar exam, and chuckle a bit when I imagine how horribly I confused the names of some paintings on my Art History final, but overall I think they went well.  Friday night, my last night in Paris, I managed to accomplish nothing that I wanted to.  I had big plans of picnicking beneath the Eiffel Tower and blabbing on about how much I would miss it... instead, my friend Becca and I made dinner here at home, opened some red wine, and then traveled around aimlessly on the Métro.  Though I didn't see the Eiffel Tower, I did manage to happen upon the Opéra Garnier all lit up and splendid.  It was a surprise encounter and a reminder of how many beautiful things are hiding around the corner in this city.  Not a bad way to leave Paris.

Can you spot the Phantom of the Opera?
I left on Saturday afternoon and flew into Dublin.  Though it was a whirlwind visit, I felt the same immediate comfort and sense of home that I experience each time I return to Ireland.  Though I've lived in America the longest, I will be the most connected to Ireland for the rest of my life.  It's my home, it's where I come from, and it's the place I will always feel welcome and complete.  Philadelphia is wonderful, and of course Paris is an incredible place to live as well, but Dublin is home.  I spent my time with family, eating delicious food (fish and chips are best in Ireland, I don't care what anyone says!), drinking tea, and catching up.  I happened upon the Dublin marathon when I spent my last full day in town, and it was such an exhilarating thing to witness!  I watched so many runners crossing the finish line, and heard all the Dubliners cheering them on though they didn't even know them.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't cry.  I'm not sure why I felt so emotional, to be honest.  Something about seeing people accomplish something that impressive combined with watching the support and excitement of the crowd was really moving.  After drying my tears, a little embarrassedly, I met up with some old family friends.  We shared a delicious lunch and caught up, and it was lovely to spend time laughing with three very silly sisters.  It made me think of my own, and how glad I am that our reunion is so soon!  

Near the finish line of the marathon!

Bright winter sun in Dun Laoghaire.

From Ireland, I headed to Seville for a dramatically different climate!  I landed in Seville airport and suddenly remembered that I don't speak a word of Spanish.  Well, OK, I remembered that I only speak about ten words of Spanish.  It was so strange to realize that I was almost completely unable to communicate myself in even the most basic situations.  A few times I awkwardly defaulted to speaking French, which earned me some confused Spanish facial expressions.  I was visiting my roommate from Villanova in Spain, and it was so great to reattach ourselves at the hip.  Cara had class while I was in Seville, but I stayed at a hostel and was able to walk around by myself a little bit.  I visited the bull fighting ring and wandered the streets, taking in all the awesome architecture... and of course, the summery weather!

Plaza del Torros... Just look at that blue sky!

Dorky, but I'm alright with it.
Reunited and it feels so good.

Alcázar , so beautiful. 

My time in Seville was regrettably short.  I wish I had had more time to do really nerdy things like pay 6E for a 40 minute guided tour of the bull fighting ring, and take a ride on an open top tourist bus.  On my third night in town, Cara and I spent the night with other Villanova students studying in Seville for the semester.  It was so nice to be back in the company of Villanovans!  Maybe that sounds weird, but it's a comfort thing and I was really glad to be able to say things like "I wish I had an omelette from the pit right now..." without getting strange looks.  After several too-late nights, Cara and I dragged our sorry selves out of bed bright and early on Friday morning to jetset to Londontown.  We flew first to Portugal, and it was honestly the worst flight I've ever experienced.  Sitting in a tiny plane being tossed around in some dreadful storms is never an experience one looks forward to.  After a short layover in Portugal, where I spent most of my time marveling at the unfamiliar sounds of Portuguese (and eating cheese...), we finally touched down in London and searched out the EasyBus shuttle which would take us to center city.
"Even RyanAir passengers welcome!"
Why do people think Brits have strange senses of humo(u)r?
We arrived, after a quick stop for falafel, at the apartment building where several of our Villanova friends live.  It was, once more, so nice to be surrounded by Villanovans!  A little taste of home, even in London.  It was great to see London again as well.  It was a totally different visiting experience than I'd had before, because I didn't do a single touristy thing... But I think that's alright, since I've seen them  before and I would rather spend time in a bedroom catching up with friends than stand in line for expensive things that I've already done.  I hope that's a good reason.  For me, it was exactly what I needed.  Some time to speak a lot of English and laugh until my stomach hurt.

The trip to London got a little less great, however, on Friday night when I fell hard onto my left shoulder.  It hurt right away, but by the next morning was so painful and swollen that I decided to go to the hospital.  My two wonderful and patient friends came with me, and after searching for 2 hours and trying three (yes, three) different hospitals, I found myself filling out a form in the emergency room of Chelsea Westminster Hospital.  After a two hour wait and a tearful phonecall to my mother, my aunt who lives only a half an hour away appeared at the hospital door.  The wait was long but the visit itself was quick, a few x-rays and painful proddings revealed that I've managed to tear some shoulder ligaments.  The good news is I don't need surgery or anything... The bad news is I'm in a lot of pain, and can't move my arm much at all, and there is not much to be done about it.  
I was happy to get back to Paris, though that doesn't mean any part of my vacation was bad.  I felt comforted when I heard French immediately upon entering the Eurostar terminal of St. Pancras train station, and was almost glad to get rudely shoved aside in the Métro.  My time away from Paris has made me love it all the more.  Though each city I visited was wonderful in its own right, for me Paris is where I want to be right now.  I took a long walk by myself around the city today, and actually grinned when I saw the Eiffel Tower appear around a corner.  My heart feels lighter when I look around me in a Parisian street, there is so much beauty and romance to embrace that it's almost impossible to ever feel too gloomy.  I may have left my glasses in Ireland, my phone charger in England, and messed up my shoulder pretty seriously... But I still couldn't be happier to be in Paris.  
Tomorrow is my first day at work!  I'm dreadfully nervous, but also excited.  I don't speak English legal jargon, so I hope that I'm not expected to speak it in French!  First days are always challenging, but I know that this job is an incredible opportunity and I can't wait to see what it offers me.  I have packed my lunch and set out my outfit,  and I have factored in enough time in the morning for eggs and toast, so I am feeling about as prepared as I can be.
With only forty-seven days left in Paris, I'm making lists right and left of things to do before I go (and promptly losing all of them).  I have several fabulous visitors coming in the next seven weeks, and I feel so happy when I think about showing them around my city.  That is all in the future however, and the most important thing to do now is live in the moment.

And, well, this moment is marveilleux, chers amis. xo

1 comment:

  1. Fabulous post Neen, I just love it. It really portrays where you are and it makes me all the more excited to visit you in less than 2 weeks.
    Muah xxxx