Ah, Paris! The City of Love. Visiting has long sat at the top of my bucket list. A notion both lonely and seemingly unattainable. I’m not quite sure why I have longingly dreamed of Paris. Is it the romantic allure of boat rides along the Seine? The venerable architecture? The exquisite food? The pleasing finesse of the French language? Finally experiencing it, I’d have to say “yes” to all that and more.

My “normal” life centers around a fairly basic existence in a rural environment on the fringes of wild, pristine nature. My water comes from a creek. I have a composting outhouse, no toilet. My bathtub/shower lives permanently outside. The sun furnishes our electricity. I have no cellular service at the house. Sometimes I can be home 7-10 days without leaving. And now for a three-week stint, I find myself (with my family) on a trip to four countries (Belgium, France, England, and Scotland), navigating train and metro lines, a foreign language I studied minimally thirty years ago, sights and sounds unlike any I would find near my humble little hovel in the woods.

From inside and outside the flat where we are staying on the top floor of a five-story building, I can see the Eiffel Tower, the iconic symbol of Paris, standing regally against the sky. As I write this from where I sit on my bed and glance out the wide open window, there she stands so close and beckoning that I can see clearly some of the detail of the wrought iron lattice work. From the moment I arrived and stepped out on the terrace, which wraps around the building of this corner apartment and boasts a 180-degree view that gazes above quintessential Parisian rooftops in the center of the city, it took all my restraint not to yell from the top of my lungs: “I’m in Paris! Oh my god, I’m in fucking Paris!”

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