Yoga girl, why do you look so sad?
It’s noon on a Tuesday, and you’re traipsing through the most beautiful neighborhood in New York with your mat. Your sharp eyes and slanted mouth gives you an air of depth, but there’s a grayness that repels.
This morning I woke up over my head. Plans of how to provide for myself when I fail. Lists of people I have disappointed. Ways I have slipped.
I got out of bed anyways. I told my God “I give you everything, show me something else.”
So he did.
Rushing to meet my friend at Kundalini, I turned on my head phones and ran for the train. Except my music didn’t start. In a thoughtless move, I turned on I Heart Radio- Les Sins.
Instantly, I was thrown back to a different life and a different girl. A vision of myself not having a plan or a place to live, but laughing and dancing anyway. I was still married to Nghia and completely stuck, but hopeful, so hopeful.
On a whim, I booked a flight to Paris. I was going on an adventure, by myself. My husband said that if I get on the plane, we’re over. I had nothing to lose.
Life had become unbearable. I don’t stomp my feet or talk loud, but I was definitely tempted. The men in my life weren’t listening to me, they were too busy controlling their own lives and mine. On the outside, it should’ve been a dark time. My mother just died, I had lost my job and I was on the brink of divorce. Except, it was the brightest time I have yet to experience. I was giving myself a break.
I got an a plane to Belgium, then a train to Paris. The further I moved away from Texas and my expectations, the lighter I felt. I had no plan, didn’t speak the language and wasn’t sure what the hell I was doing.
I saw light and grace everywhere. I put on my Nikes and ran the entire city of Paris. I didn’t shop, I didn’t drink or go out, I ran. My only rules were if I saw a garden or a church, I’d go in. I also opened myself up to the idea of passion.
I had been with the same man for 8 years and had always been faithful. In Paris, I tried on the idea of flirting and being free and I learned some valuable lessons.
My first lesson:
Do not try to fit in. At first I walked around straight faced and stoic, trying to mirror the people I saw. I learned that if I don’t speak to people they wouldn’t notice how terrible my French is and they would assume I’m a Parisian, but it wasn’t fun. Who wants to look like they belong without any experience?
I ended up in a random pizza spot in the Latin District, staring at a menu I couldn’t decipher. I ordered a beer and a pizza and when my order came, I didn’t know how to ask what I was about to put into my mouth. The waiter laughed at me. He said he assumed I was French until I ordered the nastiest pizza on the menu.
His English was not very good, and my French was horrible, but we both knew enough Spanish to joke and talk. He said I was too loud and my French sounded like a frog. I told him he was too cynical. He taught me amazing curse words, let me drink for free at his bar and invited me to my first French party.
If I had tried to fit in and pretended to be quiet and detached, I would’ve missed a side of Paris that changed me forever.
Love takes time. I have never been an overly sexual person, flirting gave me anxiety and getting attention from a man made me uncomfortable. I was in Paris, trying on the idea of a fling.
The only man I lit up for was a bartender at Semilla. He was kind and hardworking and very handsome. The man who sat beside me at the bar was not. I cut my meal short because the man beside me wouldn’t stop asking me questions. While I was trying to discreetly watch the bartender serve everyone. I wanted to share a meal, find out what he smelled like.
I went back to my hotel, sweated a bit, then took a leap.
I called the restaurant.
“Do you remember me, the American you served at the bar?”
“Yes, I do.” His voice was light and playful.
“I wanted to call and give you my phone number if you wanted to hang out while I am in town.”
He laughed. “Actually, I can’t. I hope you enjoy your stay.”
It was a very simple and easy rejection, and I will never know why. I was too busy being proud of myself and my bold move to think about it.
I look back and I am thankful that this was not my first sexual encounter after my marriage, I probably could not have handled it. I knew after my marriage, I did not want to be hungry for love or accepting of any type of affection.
In Paris, people are aesthetically driven. They will stare at me with appreciation but keep a distance. Love is deeply grounded in reality. My friend described it this way “American men pursue French women and Parisian men pursue French women. They are hard to get through to, and it takes work. That is part of the beauty. Americans have a notion of a romantic fling in Paris, it’s too forced and fantastic.”
This idea of a love that organically unfolds and takes time and effort with a side of detachment sounds so lovely to me.
Today, listening to my Parisian play list, I remembered last time this was on I didn’t have a colorful apartment in New York. I didn’t know what Kundalini yoga was. I didn’t have the freedom to taste, touch and explore. I’m so glad I got to go back to Paris in my mind.
It reminded me that good is coming straight towards me and I have no choice but to collide.That I do not know the how’s, but if I show up life unfolds perfectly.