Day 79: Go to Paradise City.

I'm here! Paradiso Perduto! Paradis Perdu! Lost Paradise...

My flight to Miami went smoother than my flight from Paris. After that mayhem, I'd say that I should have good travel karma for life. The only minor set-back was that I almost missed my flight because I was cut in the check-in line by a family who ended up having expired passports, animals without vaccinations and exceeded weight suitcases where the gate agent needed to find change for their 500 dollar bill. What planet were these people from? But again, after the CDG scandal, nothing phases me. With 15 minutes left, I ran to catch my 5:40am flight to Miami where the gate agent had my boarding pass waiting and I settled into my seat with a mimosa before take-off. Vacation has officially started. 

The connecting flight from Miami to Nassau, Bahamas was on a little propeller plane that seats no more than 30 people. I hate those little rickety planes, I always feel like I'm going to die on them. It was swaying from left to right as we were taking off, the flight crew sat a gentleman next to me to even out the weight and there was light turbulence that felt like the end of the world. To make matters more 'colorful', a little British boy who sat behind me and reminded me of Veruca Salt kept announcing that we were going to crash, bloody death, we're going to crash with the inflection of a 40-year-old. 

The flight was only 28 minutes and once we were airborne, the bumps smoothed out, the ocean went from dark murky green to crystal seafoam as we were entering Caribbean waters and the little British boy continued to talk in my earlobe which become more amusing after my Bloody Mary.

I got through immigration without a hitch and took a cab straight to Paradise Island. The villa has 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, full kitchen, living room with cable t.v, full bar and beachy touches like starfish and sea portraits. It was just perfect. I opened the screen door that opened to the terrace to find the crystal blue ocean seemingly at my fingertips. After the past few months that I've had, a little time alone on the beach was exactly what I needed. I'd cook dinner, take walks, sleep on the beach, exercise in the gym; the relaxation possibilities were endless. 

Waking up to catch my flight at 3am, I was wiped out and flopped on the bed in the master bedroom to take a cat nap. 2 hours later, I woke up to the sound of my grandfather singing in Italian. Did I tell you that I'd be vacationing with 90-year-olds? Yup. And I couldn't wait a second more. I've missed my grandparents. Nothing soothes the soul like a vacation with your grandparents. Pasta, wine and the best comments ever. Allez-up! 

Day 78: Act Like A Complete Moron.

I woke up this morning to the sound of infomercials from the t.v that I fell asleep to last night and the sun shining through the blinds in my bedroom at my Mom's house. Still being 6 hours ahead on Paris time, I was ready to start my day at 6:30am on a Saturday morning. I love jetlag.

I walked downstairs to follow my Parisian morning routine that I've had for the past 2 years - just adding a few tweaks. Instead of putting the kettle on to make a powdered NesCafé, I warmed up the Nespresso machine (fancy times chez Mom), listened to Nova Radio streaming from the internet instead of the crusty radio that I found under the sink in my flat and the fresh air from my tiny chambre de bonne windows that offer rooftop views was swapped out for enjoying my breakfast in my purple bathrobe à la terrasse in my Mom's backyard.

About an hour later my Mom came down, just as the caffeine was sufficiently running through my veins and I was awake enough for me to listen to her recap The New York Post's page 6 gossip. Since she's been on a health kick these days, instead of skipping breakfast like she's had for the past 20 years, she joined me on the deck with her daily lemon water, soy Super Greens drink and a more-than-daily Marlboro Light. She's trying. 

Today she had a surprise for me and told me to go do my errands that needed to be done before leaving for The Bahamas tomorrow and it will be waiting for me at the house when I got back. I love surprises, especially my Mom's surprises that generally come in forms of food and/or wine and spirits. I went to the bank and discovered that my American ATM card gives me the prompts and receipt in French. Out of curiosity, I asked the teller why and he said that it had been changed to my default language, most likely by me. My default language? I blew it off to it probably being a drunk dial to my bank during my quest for full immersion. I don't remember doing it but it's not entirely out of question. 

After making the necessary stops, I pulled up my Mom's driveway to find her in a purple crochet bikini and paint-stained Timberland work boots skimming a plastic blow up baby pool. My mind didn't know where to comment first; the baby pool, the skimmer or the work boots. The work boots I was actually familiar with. She puts them on when ever she goes into her adjacent garage to pull out rusty manly things like the lawn mower and rakes, and in this case secret blow up baby pools and her bikini is her default outfit for the summer. Her ensemble brought me back to the 8th grade and my high school crush showed up after school to smoke pot with my brother and my Mother was gardening in said ensemble with a walkman on her ears and singing Madonna's "Burnin' Up". A cappella. I was mortified. It was nice to see that things hadn't changed since 1994. 

I called up my best friend since 5th grade, Kitty to go "swimming" with me. She showed up 20 minutes later wearing sunglasses, a bikini covered by a terry cloth Juicy Couture beach cover-up holding a magnum of Pinot Grigio. When in Rome.

3 glasses of wine in the baby pool later, where we were splashing around like seals and I was entertaining myself by threatening to shake the contents of the skimmer onto Kitty when our attention got diverted by the sounds of children. My next door neighbors Ryan and Frankie Jr. romping around on their tricked out 2011 slip n' slide. Buzzed off Pinot, we saw no problem or potential Mrs. Robinson creepiness in asking them if we can come over and play. Cocktails in hand. Before waiting for them to grant us admission we were well into their backyard, ready to take over their Summer equipment. I decided to go first and being a wimp and not wanting to make a running head start, I did a half-ass flop and my stomach slammed against the plastic runway as I flopped up and down. I could feel the fat in the back of my legs ripple in waves. The view that these poor boys have would be traumatizing enough to add 4 more years to their viriginity. Sorry fellas.

Kitty was smart and did the instructed running head start and charged towards the slip n' slide screaming "Hey you guys!" à la The Goonies. The result of her head start had her cruising down the slip n' slide like a pro. She capped off her performance on her stomach in the winner's pool doing stationed scuba movement while growling like a lion. Did I mention that like me, she will be 30 in a month? When we are together, we revert back to 5th grade where we try to out do each other on who can act like a bigger idiot. In this case she won. I am normally the reigning champion but I'm blaming my lack of game on jetlag. Ryan and Frankie Jr. were not amused. I can only imagine what they were thinking in their little pre-teen heads; a bunch of weird drunk ladies stampeded through their backyard playing with their toys while making strange noises. Accurate enough.

After a few attempts to slip and then slide without killing ourselves, we decided to relax in the winner's pool with our cocktails when their Dad, Frankie Sr. showed up who didn't even flinch that we were enjoying alcohol beverages in his children's summer toys. Every time I have seen him since my 21st birthday he likes to make a crack that it's 5 o'clock somewhere encouraging me to drink because it's always cocktail hour. It's come to a point where its impossible to not mention that we should be getting sloshed because it's 5 o'clock. 'Somewhere'. A few Summers ago, he even went as far as to by my Mom a multi colored windmill from the Jersey Shore that says just that, she wanted to kill me because I was provoking it. So now every Summer for the past 7 years, she feels obligated to put it out on her deck to show her appreciation. She hates this thing but over the years it has become the official mascot that kicks off Summer. Summers on Long Island wouldn't be the same without it. 

Today is about letting loose, being around people you know, love and trust and torturing your neighbors! Like my cats, I'm sure they will run when they see me coming around. Ah, it's good to be home.

Day 77: Vent!

Illustration by Eveline Tarunadjaja

Being home, I have a mound of mail and paperwork that has been piling up for 6 months in my bedroom to go through. Credit card bills, bank statements, Alumni letters, wedding invitations from my little cousins, yes little cousins and a 'Just Born' announcement from my L.A ex-boyfriend and his wife. Exhale. I was ridiculously feeling out of sorts. It's just too much all at once. What's my problem? I made it home. I'm with my family. And en route to The Bahamas. Maybe its jetlag, feeling some reverse culture shock and PMS. Oh là

On top of everything else, everything seems so loud here, specifically t.v. Is it because I understand English completely whereas in French, my brain skims over details? Or is American television really loud? My Mother threw me into the deep-end this morning with 'The View'. I'd sooner listen to a pack of raccoons fighting over leftover food in a bush.

I spent the afternoon in a haze, going through letters and making piles of the paperwork that I will need to tend to when I get back next week. After a hot bath, my brother 'made' me a Bethenny Frankel 'Skinny Girl' Margarita (I think the skinny is negated if you finish the bottle) and put on Jeopardy. The combination of booze, trivia and my brother's side comments did the trick. I have been allocated one day to feel to succumb to feeling like crap because my hardcore Italian family won't put up with it any longer than 24 hours before hearing "Get ova it!". So I have to take advantage of these 24 hours to be coddled by my family. My cat Charlotte who was a kitten when I left for Paris two years ago is reminding me of Monsieur Flâneur, all cute and nice in the beginning but now that she is comfortable is nasty and rude

And by the way, it's raining in New York. I feel better now. Tomorrow's another day and hopefully I will be less of a brat. Self awareness is the first step in recovery. 

Day 76: Repose.

I made it back to New York in one piece after surviving yesterday's excitement and was greeted by my Mother who was just horrified by what had happened. In her words "Ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous." with hands waving in the air. I know, Mom, I know. What's done is done and am just glad to be back in The States. To commence my American vacation, she took me to lunch at Houston's for Spinach dip and chicken salad and almost had a double orgasm when the server had asked me if I wanted my left-over uneaten salad wrapped to go. To-go! I forgot that you can do that, a concept that hasn't reached Paris yet and mostly likely never will. On the way back to my Mom's house, I almost fainted when I saw the price of gas, 4.22! Good thing I don't drive anymore. In the words of my Mother "Holy merde!". 

We got back to her house where I dropped my bags at the door and ran straight for my cats to give them unwanted squeezes and kisses. They hate when I come home, cats in general don't like to be picked up and squeezed into submission but I selfishly refuse to accept this unspoken feline rule. I simply can't resist them. As a kitty bonus, I went in my backyard to discover that my mom has been feeding a litter of new-born kittens who are bite size and equally irresistible. Amusingly, one of them has a striking resemblance to my cousin, who I immediately named after. Kirk. I'm not so sure that human Kirk will agree with their uncanny resemblance. 

Mother cat and "Kirk"

This trip back is an improvement to the last time I was here, it was under less than happy circumstances or rather unbearably miserable circumstances. It was 2 weeks after the break-up and my brothers and cousins tried to keep me entertained by inviting me to a dog's funeral where someone snuck a Metallica CD in the discman and no one seemed to notice that "Enter Sandman" played 4 times in one day, the guests looked like Willie Nelson and I looked like death. I felt worse. This return back, I have some color, shed my stress weight and feel relaxed.

Monsieur Flâneur was supposed to be here with me. That was the plan we had made in the winter, a vacation in New York to spend time with my family and then back to Paris where we'd drive down to Nice to spend time with his. Clearly that's not happening and am here without him and he will be in Nice without me. I can't help but think what we would be doing. Sitting on the deck, he would be smoking, I'd be torturing cats and we'd be laughing with my family who adored him. Now I'm doing it alone and while I am slowly moving on from him, I have been thinking about him and guiltily wishing he was here. 

Time away from Paris will do me some good to get a good dose of friends and family in the hopes of speeding up the healing process, this time forever. I will go back refreshed and ready for the next chapter of my life abroad. Is it weird that I miss Paris already?

Day 75: En Route to New York: Part II.

Harassment, mayhem, accusations, hysteria, and scandal - just another trip to JFK from Charles de Gaulle. I wouldn't have expected anything less from my travel life. Malheureusement, c'est comme ça!

I snuck back into Paris after not being able to fly out yesterday and headed straight to Phil's to spend a quiet evening alone. I didn't call Aurélien to let him know that I was around for one more night because our send-off was so perfect yesterday and could use a night to myself. 7am came quicker than I thought and left Phil's house to head back to Charles de Gaulle via the crusty RER. Like yesterday, I stopped at Comptoir Turenne for hopefully my last café allongé for the summer. Unlike yesterday, there was no ride, no cute boyfriend and definitely no kisses.

I got to CDG from Paris in about an hour, stopped at the coffee vending machine for my last fix that I gulped down outside of the terminal and proceeded through customs and security like a pro. I saw all of my 'friends' from yesterday who wished me "Courage!" that I would fly out today. I made it to the gate with two hours to kill and walked up to the counter and was greeted by the same agent from the day before. "Hello..again!" I said cheerfully. She returned my enthusiasm, said hello and was pleased to inform me that she had checked me into the flight yesterday and that I was the first Family Passenger on the stand-by list but the flight looked pretty booked and that she'd keep me posted. I thanked her and sat with the other passengers to read my book. 

I sat next to a young girl - again. Not quite as young as the girl from yesterday, she was in her twenties and definitely less annoying. I overheard her talking to a girl next to her saying that her mother was working the flight and that she was trying to get back to New York. In essence, she was me. Unfortunately, since the flight was oversold we'd probably both get left behind. I had been left behind with other Family Passengers before and ended up bonding over our common way of traveling over lunch or drink before the next available flight. If she got stuck here overnight I was thinking how I'd help her out or show her around the city. She seemed like a nice girl. My illusions of us posing in front of the Eiffel Tower were immediately smashed to smithereens when I overheard her saying that the flight was oversold and that she knew that there was another Family Passenger trying to get on but since her Mom was working the flight, they were going to kick 'her' off the flight and get her on instead. Hey! No Eiffel Tower for her! 

Horrified by what I had just discovered, I whipped my phone out and sped dialed my Mom who was sleeping in New York. "Mom! Mom! Wake up, sorry!" I said in a frenzy. "Hello? Who is this?" she asked obliviously she was still sleeping. "Mom, sorry! It's me. Mom! There is another Family Passenger who is trying to get to New York but since her Mom is working the flight, they are going to try and give her the last seat available. My seat! In theory. Is that allowed?" My Mom woke up immediately "That's not allowed. That's against the goddamn rules! Whose there? Lemme tawk to them. Pass the phone!" she barked. "Mom, I'm not passing the phone. I just wanted to confirm with you that since I was first on the list and waiting since yesterday that they can't give her the seat because her Mom is working the flight, right?" I said creating more hysteria than necessary. "Right!" she confirmed.   

The flight started to board and the gate agent welcomed all first class passengers to board the aircraft with coach shortly following. The boarding area became empty as I waited for all of the full fare passengers to board before walking over to the counter to check the status. The young girl followed where we waited side by side to be granted tickets. The gate agents saw both of us and began to talk amongst each other. Due to the fact that I speak English when I'm at Charles de Gaulle and my passport is American, with good reason no one assumes that I speak French - a foolish mistake. They said to each other that they were going to let the young girl have my seat because her mother was working the flight and confirmed to each other that it was completely against the rules and giggled while pressing there fingers to their lips to imply 'shhh'. I couldn't believe what my ears were hearing and seeing. The 'shhh' gesture was just embarrassing. I still waited. I wanted to see if they were going to actually follow through on their rouse against me. They printed out the boarding pass and in slow motion I watched them hand it to the girl. Noooooooo.

I walked up to the counter and in French said: "Excuse me but I know that she is a Family Passenger as well but since I was first on the list, how is she boarding instead of me?" I asked calmly while my heart was racing over the fact that I was actually speaking up for myself. I wanted to make the 'shhh' gesture to let them know that I was on to them but that probably would have been taking it too far - it was tempting though. The gate agents froze in horror because for one, I was on to them and two, me, the stupid American does speak French and understood their little Charlie's Angels scheme that they were plotting in front of me. They immediately called their manager over and a large African woman named Claire appeared and was told by her staff that I had a 'problem'. I was scared. I said, "No Madame, I don't have a problem but I would like to know if I will be flying as well because someone who was after me on the list was issued a boarding pass." Claire came two inches away from my face and started yelling at me in French telling me to leave her and her crew alone, that I was harassing them and that if I have a problem I can call headquarters in America. It was horrible and completely irrational. I desperately tried to reason with her, "Madame, I'm not sure why you are yelling at me but I heard your employees say it was against the rules but they were going to do it anyway. I have been trying to fly out since yesterday. I'm not trying to make trouble but it just doesn't seem right." She stormed off cursing me to hell and high water to her colleagues that I was a horrible person. Horrible person? I thought that was pushing it. Come on, Claire. You seem tougher than that. I just called b.s on you and your crew. Voilà. 

I heard more conversation amongst all of the agents and because they now knew that I understood French, they spoke softer while huddling around their desk and every so often peeking back at me. This was turning into a really bad joke. I saw big, bad Claire look at me and say to her associate with force "En plus!". En plus what? I didn't do anything to warrant an initial plus so why the en? The non-Claire gate agent then approached me and asked me if I had anything else to wear. Wear? As in clothes? I was wearing a knee-length striped dress, a cardigan and ballet flats. Just to brief on company policy, Family Passengers aren't allowed to wear jeans, flip flops or sweatpants and need to dress appropriately, which I always abide by; including today. Nowhere in the manual does it say no striped cotton A-line dresses. I looked at her in disbelief when she accused me of wearing a t-shirt. Not to come across as paranoid, but I have been traveling as a Family Passenger for over 12 years and knew very well that she was giving me a hard time because I busted her and her creepy crew. 

Since time was certainly not on my side, I had to act fast and arguing with her was out of the question even though she was being ridiculous. There was not a bathroom in sight, so I ran into a designer boutique store changing room, slammed the door behind me and frantically looked for the key to my suitcase lock to pull something out to change. The clerk pounded on the door and told me to get out or she was going to call security to escort me out of the airport. Ok, I didn't want to be escorted out of the airport..en plus. There was no time for the bathroom, it was on the other side of the terminal. I left the boutique, said 'to hell with it' and opened my suitcase in the middle of the terminal. With my ass up in the air, I frantically dug through the suitcase looking for something, anything to put on. The clock was ticking and my hands were shaking as I was getting more flustered. I looked behind me and saw Non-Claire looking at me, waiting for my failure.

I couldn't find something that I could put on in the terminal without getting undressed in front of everyone. Then I found it! Keeping in the same navy and red motif as my original outfit that was deemed inappropriate, I pulled out my red and navy scrunched floral skirt that I bought at Express in 1991 (it totally still works) and put it over my "t-shirt". I put the sky blue chunky knit cardigan that I had on before but realized that while it matched, the texture wasn't right for a spring floral skirt and opened my suitcase again to fetch a lighter navy blue cashmere cardigan and tied a patterned navy blue silk tie around my neck for an obnoxious French touch. I went back to Non-Claire, whom I was sure was expecting a catastrophe outfit based on the four minutes that I was issued to change and thanked her for suggesting a new look because this outfit was much chicer than the last one. She gave me a once over and a gallic French 'Bravo' facial expression -she was impressed and frankly so was I. I can be a resourceful nana when the pressure is on, so take that Claire and non-Claire.

Because what they were doing was against company policy and all parties involved could have gotten fired if I reported it, which between you, me and the lamppost, I would have never done, their fear of what they thought I was going to do left them with no choice but to put me on the flight to keep me quiet. This was getting more intense than I could have ever imagined and all because I asked what was going on in French and now I was being kept quiet with a first class ticket by the airline Mafia. 

Suddenly, the girl that was given my seat was back in the terminal, crying. They had pulled her off the aircraft, rescinded her ticket and issued it to me. I felt like a jerk. For the record, she was wearing a striped cotton summer dress too. 

I got on board and stood with my bags in the aisle waiting to go to my seat when I heard the flight crew talking in the galley behind the curtain. "My daughter got kicked off because another Family Passenger complained." You could hear the reactionary gasps of disbelief from other flight attendants. "What a low-life!" "Who does such a thing?!" Then I heard one of them ask where the list was and I could hear the shuffling of paper behind the curtain. "Oh here, the only Family Passenger will be in seat 2-B. She hasn't boarded yet." the disgruntled mother said. "Well when she does, she going to wish she never opened her big mouth and then boarded on my plane!" a flamboyant flight attendant assured her. There was a cheer of laughter against me with hoots and hollers on what a low-class loser I was. My heart was racing, I did not want to go to seat 2-B. I was in for some serious flight attendant hazing and you do not want to feel the wrath of a pissed off flight crew 20,000 feet in the air. They can get nasty. 

I was approaching the dreaded seat 2-B and could feel that all eyes were pointed in that direction. I gingerly walked over to my seat, looked up and saw three flight attendants in different corners of the aircraft look at me with squinted eyes. This was going to be a long flight. Several times, I'd hear a crew member call me "trash" or "low class" as they came up the aisle - charming. After my second glass of Sancerre, I could care less how awful they thought I was, I fluffed up my pillow and went to sleep. 

My friends get jealous that I fly for cheap and more often than not I sit in first class, but as the old saying goes, 'You don't get something for nothing' and I generally pay for the flight one way or another. This time my dignity was for sale. I did not complain, I spoke up for myself and simply reminded them of the rules while in turn reminding them that there are Americans who do in fact speak and understand in French. Maybe it's me, but a general rule of thumb that I like to follow is that its probably not wise to speak about someone in front of their face, especially when said person is sleep deprived and you are toying with the fact that they will be stuck in an international airport, for the second day in a row. But call me crazy. 

Day 74: En Route to New York: Part I.

The first half of my day started off blissfully. The sun was peeking through the clouds, Aurelien had picked up custard filled pastries for breakfast and helped me clean Phil's apartment from top to bottom before taking me to the airport. Sun, French Sweets, cleaning and an airport ride from my French Sweet? This was going to be a great day. I could just feel it. What could possibly go wrong? 

Famous last words...

Anyone who travels to Charles de Gaulle Airport knows better not to say that until the aircraft is airborne. 

We packed up the car with my suitcase and stopped at Comptoir Turenne for a pre-flight allongé before hitting the road. Still having Phil's keys I wasn't sure what to do with them. I was supposed to get them to Monsieur Flâneur but just didn't have the strength to deal with him. I was debating whether to give them to Aurelien but decided against it. We could have passed by his restaurant to see if someone was there so I could quickly jump out of the car and pass them on, but I knew they weren't open yet and that he was still sleeping this early in the morning. I decided to just keep them on me, just in case I needed to return to the flat. This was when I realized that Katie had my set of apartment keys as well. After our Girls Night, she came back at 3 in the morning to because her keys to get in the apartment weren't working. Being too tired, and it being too late to deal with it, I gave her my set. I had texted her the day after to drop them off but ever heard back.  

On the way to the airport, we had to stop by my apartment to get the keys, which only took me realizing once we were at Bastille and had to circle back around. It was difficult getting in touch with her, but after some pushing, like showing up at my own apartment and knocking on the door, I was able to get my keys back giving me some piece of mind to leave Paris. 

We hit some expected traffic but were running on schedule and were enjoying our last moments together. 

We arrived at the antiquated Terminal 2 of Charles de Gaulle where Aurelien, with my suitcase in tow, escorted me to the overwhelmingly crowded airport. Once settled in line to check in, I stretched my arms around him where we said goodbye for what seemed like only several minutes. While we were "saying goodbye", I opened my eyes to see if there was any movement in the line and was startled by a prepubescent Chinese brother and sister sibling team staring at us. A bit embarrassed, I unlocked myself from his embrace and his hands off my ass to realize that the entire line, waiting to check in was Asian. Every single passenger with the exception of us: Asian. It didn't seem probable that I was the only caucasian traveling to New York from Paris. It just didn't. I gently tapped on the shoulders of the peeping-sibling's parents to find out where they were headed and as it turns out, I had been waiting or rather smooching on the line to Beijing for 15 minutes. I took this as a queue to send Aurelien off. I admit, it felt nice to have someone to say goodbye to before a long trip. Doesn't everyone like an official send-off?

I made my way to the correct line which was moderately shorter and where the passengers corresponded a bit more accurately with the trip; irritated New Yorkers ferociously rolling through their blackberries. Ah, I was right at home. I had about a 10-minute wait ahead of me and comfortably dazed off, imagining what I will drink on the plane and what magazines I will buy when my thoughts were interrupted by a tap on my shoulder. It was Aurelien, he came back to say "goodbye" one more time. Being on the right line and away from small children, I surrendered to some more shameless goodbye slobbering. 

I showed up at my gate and sat down with my new book; "The Good Life" by Jay McInerney which was a going away present from Aurelien. One paragraph in, I was pulled away by the piercing voice of the 14-year-old girl sitting next to me, presumably someone I would be flying with. "When I get home, I am going to go straight to McDonald's and get a burger with fries and ketchup." she declared to her Mother while putting emphasis on the word ketchup. Her mother promised her that as soon as they got home they were going straight to McDonald's. The rest of her family jovially showed up and we're talking about all of the "amazing" things that they were going to enjoy when they got back to the States. Someone was going to microwave food, someone was going to watch Who Wants to be A Millionaire? and someone else mentioned that they were going to drive. You would think that these people had spent five years in a refugee camp, instead of a week in Paris. Clearly, they horribly tortured by their Paris family vacation; a possibility for first-timers in Paris. The 14-year-old girl who I felt was now talking into my ear mentioned McDonald's. Again. "I'm going to have a hamburger with fries and ketchup." she announced at screeching volumes. 

Good lord! There is a McDonald's here! Not only in Paris but here as in the airport where it is a fantasy land of fries and ketchup to meet her worldly desires. I couldn't resist, I had to say something. I passive-aggressively closed my book with a dramatic exhale and in slow motion looked at her and said: "You know there is a McDonald's downstairs, right?" She stared at me in horror that - what I'm sure a 14-year-old brain thought - a 'lady' started speaking to her and in a barely latent irritated tone. "And they have all of the same things as they do in America. Like Ketchup." I continued. Her mother saw my irritation and defensively said: "Well that McDonald's was before security and she didn't want to go to that one." What? This girl is acting like she had been dying for McDonald's as it's all she has been talking about since I've been trying to start my new book and is going to snub the one that is presently available because it's before security? How does that even make any sense? I gave up reading my book due to the McDonald's crisis of 2011 and pulled out my mini Elle Magazine to mindlessly flip through.

Suddenly, I heard another voice and a second child appeared. A second child who looked like McDonald's girl. A twin! There was two of them. What was she going to demand? KFC? What was going to come out of this one's mouth? She seemed concerned about some fellow passengers on the other side of the gate and asked her mother what was wrong with them. Why were they wearing little hats? Her mother looked over and  said with a whisper while concealing her mouth as if they were going to hear from 50 yards away, "They're jew-ish." The creepy child looked over at the children and back at her mother and said "Ew.". Ew? I was horrified. Who were these maniacs that I was going to be flying with? 

Everything must happen for a reason because the flight was oversold and because I fly as a Family Passenger wasn't able to make it on to the flight. I'll be flying out in the morning and hopefully, tomorrow will be less colorful than today. Good thing I kept Phil's keys on me because getting them back from MF is the last thing I need to add to my travel frustrations. 

To be continued...

Day 69: Ladiez Nite.

The weather has been just awful for the past week where I have been staying in wearing sweaters and slippers sipping on red wine. Friends and family in New York are roasting from a heat wave, and we are all freezing here in Paris. Frustrated, I realized that there was only one way to fight this otherwise lackluster summer: tequila. I lured May to Phil's house by posting a live video of Kool and The Gang's "Ladie's Night" on her Facebook page and promised that she could be the "Sophisticated Mama" while I'd be the "Disco Baby". We invited my summer sublet, Katie, to join in on the fun for a night of homemade guacamole and margaritas on a cold and rainy Thursday July.

Picking up the ingredients at Carrefour before, I was disappointed to learn that they did not have Jose Cuervo but instead had San Jose and instead of sour mix, I had to improvise with "Pulco", a lime-based concentrate. I had never taken on the task of making margaritas before, so this was going to be an adventure for all involved.

I got home and lined up all my goodies for the night's festivities. I had my tomatoes, red onions, avocados, lime, garlic, chips, tequila, and Pulco. I put a flower in my hair, played some Manu Chao and got choppin'! May and Katie promptly arrived, ready to partake in total Girl's Night In. May's job was to take on the guacamole, Katie's was to make the playlist, and mine was to mix-master the pitcher of margaritas. A few minutes later, I heard a scream from May in the kitchen. Upon opening the avocado, this is what she found:

...avocado death. We opened all of them and one out of every three looked like we opened a casket in a vegetable cemetery. We googled black avocados and apparently, there's nothing wrong with it, so May continued making the guac with our Little Shop of Horrors avocados. One little bump in the road, no biggie. I was confident that my pitcher of margaritas would vanish all brown guacamole woes. Within minutes, a frothy pitcher of heaven was staring back at me. I took the first sip of my south of the border elixir and immediately spit it out. I might as well have been sucking on a lime, I didn't realize that there wasn't any sugar in Pulco. It was pure lime juice. The only solution to balance the taste out was to add more tequila. Naturally.

To add to the guacamole drama, there were brown stringy roots that we had to pull out with each bite that we made a pile of that ended up stacking higher than the actual guacamole. After three margaritas, we didn't really care what it tasted like. We just didn't look at it while eating.

May, Katie and I capped our night with a dance-off in Phil's living room to an eclectic mix of The Kinks, France Gall and Britney Spears. I tried to slip in a little Beyonce, who May loathes and was immediately vetoed for Lady Gaga as a compromise. The perfect cure for break-up blues is dancing with your girlfriends with about a liter of tequila in your bloodstream to pop music. 

I'm enjoying my new girlfriends! This break-up is turning into the best thing that has happened to me. On verra...

Day 68: Be A Man.

My boss who I have named in my head, Tom Hanks had invited me to a little going away dinner to say thank you for my time at his company and to wish me luck with my future. We went to Maison de l'Aubrac in the 8th for steak, red wine and aligot; a heavily purée of mashed potatoes and cheese that you might as well slather on your outer thigh because that's surely where it'll end up. Tonight, I was going to eat like a real man. I'm pounding my chest right now. 

The restaurant decor is raw, like a ranch somewhere in the back countryside of France with somewhat disturbing portraits of farmers posing with their live cattle. Tom Hanks couldn't resist commenting on which livestock was going to taste the best leading me to express my distaste for seeing images of my food; back when it was alive. He retaliated that 'they'; as in the cows, should be happy that they got a picture taken immortalizing their lives in a Parisian restaurant. 'Before being slaughtered.' I added. He then rubbed his hands together asking what looked good on the menu. I stared at him, I'm sure that's what 'they' are or were happy about, their glamour shots. I smiled, I'm going to miss Tom Hanks.

After the wine came, we took our first sip and the brief silence inspired Tom Hanks to give me his review of Aurélien whom he had met last week. "He has a delicate handshake," he said. "And his shoes were too white." 

Just as our tender slices of sizzling, bloody Sirloin came wafting to the table, Monsieur Flâneur's childhood best friend of 25 years, Jacques walked in with his new girlfriend. I had not seen Jacques since the surprise birthday party I threw for MF in February which was a few weeks before he had broken up with me. Our eyes met and he came over to the table to say hello. I got up and nixed the Parisien double kiss and gave him an American style hug which always throws people off a bit but he got on board and reciprocated. He asked me how everything was while he affectionately held my hand. I always liked Jacques, he was my favorite friend of MF, so I didn't take his concern as condescending. I was honest and said that things had been just going alright and that I was going back to the States to regroup and recharge for a few weeks and was unsure about my return. He nodded his head knowingly. I then introduced him to Tom Hanks who I could sense was ready to eat leading me to wrap up the conversation. Jacques had told me to e-mail or call him whenever I wanted and that there was no reason that we couldn't keep in contact. I thanked him and wished him a Bon Appétit and smiled warmly at his girlfriend before they ventured off to their table. 

As Jacques had walked away and Tom Hanks had already started on slicing into his steak "Now there's a guy with a good handshake." he said while pointing his knife in the direction of Jacque's table. "A real businessman." He then contemplated what he said and looked left and then right before adding "But he sort of looks like Mr. Bean." Again, I'm going to miss Tom Hanks.

Maison de l'Aubrac
37, rue Marbeuf
75008 Paris

Day 67: Look at Paris from 'Both Sides Now'...

Paris is like a pendulum that swings from the stereotypical visions of La Vie en Rose to the rough and dark side of the city where one wrong turn or failed connection can put you in a less than a postcard-worthy scene. One minute you are on the steps of Sacre Coeur enjoying the breaktaking views of the city and the next you are at Barbés-Rochechouart getting haggled to buy black market cigarettes. This goes with relationships too, one minute you are enjoying a romantic breakfast for two on a rainy morning and the next you are realizing that coffee was stronger than you had thought and need to use the bathroom.

Last night after the show, we scooted back to Aurélien's flat to stay. Since the venue was in Oberkampf and we were heading north and had no other choice but to scoot past by my former apartment that I had shared with MF. I had not been back in the 'hood since the break-up and had feared that upon returning I'd feel bereavement for my dead relationship. But you know what? I didn't. I indulged in reminiscence for my previous life and the different person I was a mere 6 months ago, but not for my previous life shared with him. Tant mieux.

The drive back to his place up to the 18th wasn't the most picturesque one could imagine and I was feeling a bit exposed on a Vespa as we drove through the seedier parts of Paris. We made it to his place intact but really could not imagine a female living in these parts. The streets were dark, desolate and congregations of men could be found sporadically on street corners throughout the quartier. When I first moved to town, I would put myself in some pretty compromising situations not knowing the city very well. One time, I had missed my connection as the métro was closing at 2 o'clock on a Saturday night and was left in Stalingrad. For those who know Paris, know that this is not where a petite foreigner with beginners French and no cash wants to be stranded in the middle of the night. I was being approached by men who were loitering around the station who were aggressively asking me "Ça va? Mademoiselle, Quoi? Ça va? Qu'est-ce que t'as?", inches away from my face. It was so annoying, I wanted to scream back "Ça va! OK! Ça va!!! Happy?!?" but I opted against the prelude-to-a-rape option and just walked away. Luckily and I do believe this was my Dad in heaven's doing, I spotted a girl who looked to be in the same situation as me and had learned that she was American and heading to La Motte-Picquet like me. It was incredible. A cab magically appeared and we escaped the creepy men who had an unfading desire to know how we were. We shared it to the 15th together where I was able to jump out and get cash from an ATM in a safer part of town to pay my share. After that night, I've always kept an emergency twenty stuffed in my coin purse and/or have had a boyfriend with some form of transportation. 

I woke up this morning sans Aurélien but to the smell of bacon crackling and coffee brewing and the sound of rain thrashing against the window. There was a plush terry cloth robe on the chair next to his bookcase and a little note that read: "Bonjour Mademoiselle. Pour toi...Rejoins-moi dan la cuisine, si tu veux.."  MoiJe veux! Je veux! I put the robe on and walked into the kitchen where there was an explosion of culinary madness happening. Aurélien was preparing for me an 'American' breakfast. He gave me a kiss and planted me at the kitchen table with a cafe allongé with a layer of frothed foam at the top. I can get used to being handed coffee minutes after waking up. Breakfast consisted of fried eggs, bacon, buttered toast, fresh squeezed orange juice that he made out of a contraption that was surely built in 1954, a kiwi, strawberry, banana smoothie and because he is French, smuggled in a croissant and confiture to bridge the gap between multi-cultural breakfast. I. was. in. heaven. I'm a simple gal. I don't need my man to take me shopping, buy me bags and shoes. Just feed me. Ok, feed me and tell me when you're running late. That's all. 

I found a little radio in his bathroom and brought it into the kitchen and surfed through the channels until I found Chérie Fm, the station that plays god-awful French love songs from the 80's. We enjoyed our breakfast to what I can only imagine being the French version of Captain and Tennille. 

Breakfast was lovely and with a full belly watched the rain pour down over Sacre Coeur in the distance, I was in a French dream which was interrupted by the sounds of my gurgling stomach. I needed the ladies room. Well if that doesn't knock the romance out of a situation -the first time you have to christen your new boyfriend's toilet- I don't know what does. So gross. This is the struggle of the beginning of a relationship. What do you do if you have to go to the bathroom? After coffee and all of the food that has been consumed, the need to go is inevitable. Everyone knows what's happening if you are in there longer than a minute and antiquated Parisien toilets force you to flush more than once adding a soundtrack to the situation. The return to the table is always a drop uncomfortable as your new partner comes to terms that his dream girl poops. It's so awful and I have always felt relief once that hurdle is jumped over which usually takes about 6 months.  

After overcoming the disgusting, I curled up on the couch debating whether to accept his offer of lounging around all day, watching movies and eating. Unfortunately, I had to get moving as my final week in Paris was coming to a close and the layers of things that needed to be done and people to see were mounting as each day slipped by. I said goodbye to Aurélien under an umbrella at the Porte de Clignancourt métro station and told him that I'd see him in September with slightly water-filled eyes. Descending down into the station, my misty water-colored memories came to a screeching halt when I was approached by hooligans trying to sell me métro tickets after they broke the machine which left passengers forced to purchase their tickets. And the pendulum strikes again...

Day 66: Have A Surprise Date!

This afternoon, I received a text from Aurélien asking if I was free this evening. I didn't have much planned, just organizing and making the most of my last week in Paris at Phil's, and wanting to see him one last time before I go. He was pleased and cryptically instructed me to meet him on rue Oberkampf at 8:00pm. That's it. No further information. 

So here's the thing: I love surprises, I just don't always know how to dress for them. The last time a guy "surprised" me, I ended up showing up to a Runyon Canyon hike in Miu Miu mary janes and a cocktail dress. Surprise indeed. He didn't even change the plan and had me trudging up steep and dusty terrain in heels. I looked like an idiot. That's one of the things that I hated about dating in L.A; 9 out of 10 guys are the outdoorsy type where this is a typical date scenario. I'm not outdoorsy and think dates should consist of candlelight instead of cruel and unforgiving natural sunlight, a meal and wine. Call me old-fashioned. Fortunately here in Paris, I don't have to worry about sneak-attack outdoorsy guys so much, and since we were meeting in Oberkampf, I figured I was free from wildlife. To be safe, I wore ballet flats. 

I arrived and he was waiting on the corner for me with his little helmet in hand, smiling. I was happy to see him too. He escorted me into a dark club called the Nouveau Casino to see one of my favorite bands Deerhoof. So he was listening to me and not texting when we were having drinks last week at Le Tape! I had seen the show advertisement poster and had told him that I liked them. While what I thought was texting, he was buying the tickets. This guy just keeps getting better and better.

There were a lot of Americans in the crowd and started talking up two guys in front of me about the band. The thing was that they were speaking English to each other and kept responding to me in French. It was like a cruel joke. I kept speaking English back and making my accent sound more American, so they knew I wasn't a French girl who spoke really amazing English. At least I think I speak really amazing English, but that's another conversation. But they continued, if not insisted on speaking back to me in French. The whole fun of bumping into "your people" here is being able to converse comfortably in your native tongue, and they were denying me that pleasure. I wanted to join in on the fun too!  

It wasn't because I couldn't keep up with the conversation or had difficulty understanding them, it was that I don't speak much English here to begin with so when I am able to speak, I'd like to and don't get me started on the obvious pretentious factor. After Franco-nazi #1 told me he was from New Jersey, I finally asked why were speaking French. He said he wanted to practice which was actually quite cute and felt bad for being such a bitch in my head. The thing was, I just don't think I'm the best candidate to practice with, and if anything would ruin him with my harsh slang and incorrect conjugations. Clearly, there were other people more fit for the task. Other people like Aurélien? Or the other hundred native French speakers present. Just to throw some ideas out there. 

Our conversation suddenly ended with the sound of guitars tuning from the opening band who after the first three songs,  ended up not loving. The lead singer was uncomfortably emaciated where I wanted to shove Croque Monsieurs down her throat, and had no idea what language she was singing in. They played a painfully long set and was pleased when it was over. 

Deerhoof, on the other hand, was incredible and played an hour and a half set. They are definitely an acquired sound with a distinct mix of indie and progressive rock topped off with a bite-sized lead singer from Tokyo (my second love, after Paris). It was a perfect surprise date bringing me back to my youth when I would go to shows more regularly. These days and shamefully, wine and gossip out win live music. 
Nouveau Casino
109, rue Oberkampf
75011 Paris

Day 65: Mambo Italiano.

Since moving to France and having more free time than my once upon a time 9-8 work schedule as well as the fierce combination of being broke and not having a microwave, I have had no choice but to take up cooking in order to sustain myself. At first, it was a nuisance and I would rush through preparing meals of scrambled eggs with a dollop of cheese thrown in, or if I wanted to be "healthy", I'd boil frozen broccoli into submission that ended up having the consistency of baby food, and douse it in parmesan cheese. No wonder I was so grouchy when I first moved here, I was eating like an animal. I have improved immensely during my two years in Paris but there's still a long way to go before I release a book of 'cooking secrets'. Fear the day that ever comes into fruition. 

I went to Aurélien's apartment for the first time tonight and prepared him a traditional Italian Sunday night dinner that I would be enjoying if I was in New York. Sunday nights at my grandmother's consist of my entire family, my six male cousins and their patient girlfriends, my brother and his girlfriend du jour, as well as Kitty, my childhood friend who over the years have become family and for good measure, the occasional cheating ex-husband, will stop by for dinner. A little weird, yes but hey we're Italian. We hold grudges but we still have to eat! My grandfather commences the dinner with a prayer in Italian that can either take two seconds and is a mumble of several different prayers including a funeral prayer or the painful extended version that can last up to five minutes. We never really know what rendition we were going to get, it depends on how many Manhattans he's had during antipasti. 

Wanting to recreate Sunday New York-style for Aurélien sans biblical references and my cousin telling the table how he 'Dutch Ovened' his fiancée that morning, I stopped by Pasta Linea to pick up some prociutto, mozzerella, sopressata and accompanied it with tomatoes on the vine, garlic, sauce and a box of penne. No, I did not make the sauce from scratch. That's a project that would have started at 8 am, so Barilla Basil Pomodoro was going to have to suffice, I just faked it by adding fresh tomatoes. Voilà, homemade.

Aurélien's apartment was exactly what I expected it to be. Tidy, with new hardwood floors, stacks of coffee table books, shelves of records and vintage knick-knacks. Since he lives in the 18th, he pays less rent than me and has a one bedroom apartment with two balconies, including a view of Sacre Coeur. 

He had a bottle of Barolo breathing, and for kitch I put on Dean Martin and got to cookin' while gossiping about the annoying girl at my gym who likes to show off that she can sing in English. It's not so much the singing that I find beyond irritating, it's the fact that she smugly looks around for approval after screaming a lyric from Whitney Houston's "How Do I Know?". In my opinion, it comes off more like tourette syndrome than talent, but hey, who am I to judge, I'm just there to workout.

Dinner turned out to be a smash success! I only burnt the garlic, sauce and my wrist from the hissing oil jumping out of the pan. Other than that minor set back, we shared a romantic dinner, gazing into each other's eyes while I compressed a tourniquet against bubbling skin. To numb the pain, I topped off my wine several times which resulted in red-stained teeth and lips, it was truly an Italian dream in Paris. Causalities and wine mouth aside, I was able to impress Aurélien with my "culinary skills" or at least my efforts and had a happy and full French man on my hands. 

Side note, ladies: He did the dishes and cleaned the entire kitchen in a record time of 10 minutes. This guy is a keeper.

Pasta Linea
4, rue de Turenne
75004 Paris

Day 64: Move Out.

I don't understand Paris in the Summer. This is my second one and like last year, I'm cold. I'm wearing a thick sweater, jeans, and my Franprix velour ballet slippers and it's mid-July. We had one week of unbearable heat in June that I actually enjoyed because it felt like summer and after that, it was over and now it feels like autumn. No wonder everyone flees to the South. I guess that's why Paris in the springtime is so famous because summers here are bullshit.

My summer sublet Katie is coming tomorrow, and I realized that I had not cleaned or made space for someone to move in. Not having too much to manage and having an apartment that's uncharacteristically Parisian with enough storage to stash my things while I'm away.

Packing and cleaning took a few hours but by early evening, my apartment was sparkling clean, I had stored some of my things in a closed off built-in wall compartment, and my place ready for my summer sublet to stay. I made two trips to Phil's apartment where I would be leaving some of my things, also where I'd be staying for the week before going back to the States. Perhaps it was the rain or my empty apartment, but I suddenly became melancholy. Everything was changing at warp speed and each week was starting to feel like a new era. I sat on Phil's couch with a blanket over me, listening to the rain and feeling wistful. I had to snap out of it, this was ridiculous. I'm in Paris, the place I want to be. I met a super cool guy. And I'm about to go on vacation. I should be grateful for what I have, not sad about what I don't. Having no patience for my funk, I knew who and what was going to fix this. My no-fail elixir of pizza, red wine, and Bill Murray.

I walked over to Amici Miei and got a margarita pizza to-go, had a bottle of Bourgogne at the flat and watched "What About Bob?". By nightfall, I was in better spirits, laughing out loud while Bill Murray was torturing Richard Dreyfuss in my favorite 80's comedy. My quiet Saturday night turned out to be less tragic than it started, and am ready to take on the next week of surprises and adventures.

Let's see what this Katie girl is all about. I guess we'll find out tomorrow. I may have a new friend in Paris before I go, because I could sure use one. 

Amici Miei
44, rue Saint-Sabin
75011 Paris

Day 63: Keys Open More Than Doors.

I woke up this morning feeling hungover from my night of excitement but I didn't have a drop to drink after our lunch. I was exhausted from being on a scooter for hours and fearing my life from drunk and aggravated Parisians trying to get home after the fireworks spectacular. On this sunny and cloudless day, Paris was a ghost town as most people have the Friday after Bastille Day off and were off in the country for a long weekend. I walked down to La Pearl for an allongé before stopping into work to sort out some last minute things before leaving. 

Allison, my colleague was the only one in the office who couldn't take the day off due to a project she was working on that had an immediate deadline. She took a break from her mound of paperwork and treated me to another round of her homemade guacamole that she prepared the kitchen and I brought in a bottle of rose and we said cheers to my future endeavors, whatever the hell they are. Allison had become a friend to me at work and was happy to share my last moments in the office with her. The office was quiet, just the sound of her keyboard and the occasional passing car in the otherwise desolate 16th filled the silence. It reminded me of walking through your high school at the end of June to pick up a book you left in your locker. Where only the sound of your footsteps against the linoleum combined with the hum from the fluorescents taints the air like a ghost. It always feels so final. 

I got home from my half day turned into a full day as I had more to sort out than I had realized, took a bath and fell asleep. Hours later I woke up to the awful sound of my phone ringing. I never changed the 'Rodeo' default ring and is truly the most grating ring ever developed. You don't feel like you are at a 'Rodeo' like the name promises, you are in someone's perception of what Texas must sound like. In 1985. The blaring continued and since I had not made any plans on this Summer's eve, I hit the ignore button and rolled over. A few minutes later, 80's Texas returned and being more awake than the first time, I picked it up and in a grog said hello. It was Monsieur Flâneur. Of course, it was. 

He always seems to strike when it's least expected, sort of like acne. He reminded me that he had Phil's keys and remembered that my sub-letter was coming on Sunday and wanted to pass them on to me. That's right, well I had to seize this opportunity because who knows the next time I will be able to get him to commit to something as selfless as passing keys on.

He showed up at my house an hour later and upon opening the door, I bombarded him with things that he was required to walk over to Phil's house for me. Laundry, a bag of toiletries and a pillow. He was foolishly planning on just dropping the keys off and leaving. Silly boy. He's part Italian like me, he should know better, guilt runs in our blood. He tried to tell me he was tired and was heading home in which I retorted 'You dumped me leaving me without an apartment when I wasn't working after making my life a living hell for three months because you didn't know how to end it. You can walk these things around the corner...its the absolute very least you can do.' with a smile, of course. Never did I imagine when I was learning French in my little Alliance Française classes in New York, that I would be using my verb conjugations and tenses for snarky sentences like this. My imagination definitely offered a more romantic setting. He obediently grabbed the bags and added that I was chiante while huffing down the stairs like a vieux. Ok, MF I accept as I followed behind him with exasperation. "I'm chiante, égoïste, connasse, insupportable, quoi d'autre?" Fine, I'm truly a horrible person but can you please just bring my things around the corner?

A whole six minutes later we arrived at Phil's house where we were sorted through his mail. Because Phil shares a mailbox with the next door gallery, the box is jam-packed with mail that is mostly not his. Talk about chiant. We sorted through at least 200 pieces of mail and only two ended up being for him. The light in the hallway kept going off as we were trying to get through the mail and must admit that I got comic relief from the shadow of MF trying to find the sensor with flailing hands and the elegant little creature that he is, cursing everything from hell to high water in the dark while practically doing jumping jacks. He is going to be such a crotchety old man.

We got into Phil's house, set everything down and opened some windows to air out his closed up apartment. I prepared a drink for MF to sip on while he kept me company while I sorted my darks and whites for laundry the following day. I thought about seeing Aurelien the next day I began to smile because there was something soft about him. I liked being around him. As I was blissfully organizing my laundry and looking at clothes I forgot I had when I did a double take to find MF looking at me with a smirk on his face. It was when I realized he thought I was smiling for him. Oh God. 

"Why did you want me to come to Phil's house?" he asked suspiciously while trying to what I can only assume was flirting. 

Oh MF, that ship has sailed. After the few months of complete merde that I have been through, it's going to take a little more than a sip of vodka, dirty laundry and a sultry stare to get me sizzled up again. 

"You got me, I brought you here because I was planning on seducing you. Right here. You see, I'm not sorting laundry, I'm creating a makeshift bed. Right here on the kitchen floor." 

He scoffed at me with squinted eyes and said, "You can't resist saying something annoying, can you?" I laughed. "You can't resist being annoying. That's worse." I said while slamming the washing machine door closed and remembering the fact that he always set himself up for my retaliation. 

I truly don't see us ever getting back together and I feel okay with that. Finally. Despite his ridiculous and hasty demeanor, some of the connection might still be there but I no longer cared to explore it. I get the feeling that this will be the last time I see him. And I think I'm okay with that. It took getting the keys to see this, the key to my own happiness and self-worth was always there, it just took opening up to myself to see it again.