Lost in Paris – Judy Guilliams-Tapia

One room had instructions for me to write whatever was on my mind, offering a simple pad of paper and a pencil. So, I sat down and wrote: “I feel that I am at the center of the universe or in a cocoon, totally detached from my real life. And it feels good. I like myself and maybe that’s a good thing to discover before I get any older.” My flaneur wanderings in the city during the week had allowed me to see how we get into ruts in our lives and never question our routines. Yes, we all must grapple with stark realities, but there are limits to what we can accomplish. We need to leave room for joy, even for some intoxication, whether by wine, poetry, or the random beauty that crosses our paths. Perhaps I should slow down, not be a slave to my to-do list, and spend less time looking at screens. Develop a sense of style as I get older. Disappear once in a while to roam, contemplate life’s mysteries, nurture my soul, and write some poems. 

I completed the final activity, meditating in a room full of plants and cushions, and headed out. As I entered the metro, I got stuck in the turnstile and a rude Parisian behind me said “Allez!” in a gravelly impatient voice and pushed me forward. I only realized later, on the train, that my cell phone was missing and that he must have grabbed it from my purse while I was caught in the turnstile and distracted.

No matter. I made a mental note to stop and see the apartment owner, who lived nearby, to ask if I can use her cell phone to call my husband and alert him about the theft. I didn’t mind that I’d be off the radar until my plane landed back home the next day. I exited the metro and strolled along the Seine toward the spot by the Louvre where I could catch a bus that would take me to the apartment. I reveled in the loveliness of the twilight scene. The string of artfully designed bridges, their lights casting out rays that shone like jewels in the water. The stands of the book stalls were closed, because almost all the city’s stores close at 6 pm. The old Parisian cream-colored buildings, each adorned with unique iron grillwork at the windows. A couple greeting each other with smiles and a warm embrace. My real life could wait another day for my return.

Judy Guilliams-Tapia has shape-shifted among various versions of herself throughout her adult life: graduate student living and occasionally studying in Nice, France; wordsmithing career federal bureaucrat; frazzled feminist Mom of two kids and assorted other creatures; anxiety-prone perfectionist introvert; three-time cancer survivor; Buddhist impostor; and long-time partner of an extroverted Chilean.

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