Tomorrow Mike and I depart for a trip to Europe, and we’re both acting like children who’ve just injected a mixture of sugar and Christmas morning straight into our veins.
We both feel pinch-me, tell-me-I’m-dreaming happy, and we can’t wait to see what this adventure holds.
We prepare for it in different ways, of course. Mike arranges the purchase of our pounds and euros, and I arrange to have my nails painted in a polish with a French name.
To each his own.
Wouldn’t you agree that “You Don’t Know Jacques” is the perfect gray/clay color for a stylish Parisian wannabe?
The best part is that the polish is the new OPI Axxiom, which won’t chip for 14 days…the exact amount of time I need it to stay put.
This is our first overseas trip together by ourselves (we went with my family in 2009 and it was fabulous, but this will be fabulous in a different way). We are going to London and Paris, and yes, I am ecstatic to be visiting the land of Wills and Kate. I will try to compose myself when entering Westminster Abbey, but I can’t make any promises that I won’t stand there and wave like I’m the bride (I’ve been there before, but that was before the wedding of the century). Additionally, if I get arrested by Scotland Yard for trying to break into Buckingham, I’ll be sure Mike takes a photo so I can post about it here. Priorities!
To prepare for Paris, I took a 90 minute French class at Rick Steve’s Europe center in Edmonds. The title of this post is a result of that class (by the way, it says, “I would like a glass of red wine”). Yes, I am a nerd. But at least I’m trying to be culturally sensitive…let’s be honest, I’m just trying not to make a fool of myself.
I will likely fail on both counts. My solution? Blame the red wine!
In another over-preparatory effort, I had lunch with a French coworker of my father’s to get her insider advice. We sat down at the restaurant, I pulled out my multi-paged spreadsheet, and she burst into laughter so hard she couldn’t speak.
“Oh my…oh…oh….yes we are so much alike! Zis is exactly what I would do. I, too, would make zis. But no, no, you cannot zee Paree zis way. No, zis will ruin everyzing!”
I asked her what she meant and she gave me a quick lesson about Parisian culture. Eat. Walk. Drink wine. Eat. Shop. Drink wine. Eat. Eat.
She began slashing at various museums I had listed on my spreadsheet.
“Zis is a waste of time. No. Not zis eizer.”
“But I have to see everything!” I protested.
“And you will ruin your trip in ze process,” she replied. I relented.
Later, when I recounted this story to Mike, he cheered. He’d been begging me all along not to over-schedule us, to let us just walk around and experience life there. Point for Mr. Reph.
Several of our friends have also warned us on the fashion front.
“However formal you’re thinking of dressing in Paris, double it,” they advised. This both excited us and sent us into a mild panic. Surely I can’t be expected to traverse the city in heels?
“Well, heels for dinner for sure, but you can wear flats the rest of the time,” they conceded. “But if you show up for dinner in denim, expect to be ignored.” Noted: denim = scorn.
Though I do care about looking sharp, I mostly care about getting so wrapped up in each city that I forget about myself entirely. Isn’t that really the goal when traveling? My parents always taught us to see new places and swallow them whole; to lose ourselves in whatever there is to discover.
They also taught us that rest is for the weak.
“Life is short!” my mom always says when we’re all exhausted and on our tenth activity of the day. “You can sleep when you’re dead!”
Mike and I are currently working on our own catch phrase for travel. We’re thinking of something that reflects our family history, but equally portrays our developing attitude.
So far, we’re working with, “Life is short! See everything! Then stop and have a glass of wine!”