I love you. I have always loved you.
I realise we've only ever met on the internet and in movies and books and I understand it's a very big thing, me coming here in person, but I need you to take a deep breath and run with it. I promise to try really really hard to be as unobtrusive as possible, if you try not to act like an arsehole.
Arrive at Orly airport, Paris. Tres excited! (Yes. I am going to drop in little French phrases every now and then so you know that my au fait-ness is coming along).
...tres excited. Instructions on how to get to the middle of Paris in hand. Looks easy, but then it always does on paper.
Information desk at airport arrivals:
'I need to get the bus 285 to the Louis Aragon metro. Where do I get that bus from?'
'Ahhh... not from here. You have to get the car park bus to P10 and get off at the Ibis Hotel and the bus stop is there.'
Luggage hauled onto car park bus and to the Ibis. No 285 bus stop.
'where is the 285 bus stop?'
'Ahhh... I think you need to go back to the airport arrivals and ask at information'
Tears welling up in eyes. Tears stop because the 'you are travelling alone so no one else is going to get you out of here' survival instinct kicks in.
'...or it may be that one across the road?'
Yes it may well be! I will go there.
Yes. It is. Punch the sky!
Spend enough time here for my face to get burnt, but me and my big fluorescent pink bag are eventually safe in a vehicle that is going in the right direction.
Arrive at Louis Aragon metro. Lots of stairs.
Can't make the ticket machine do what I want it to do. Breathe and try again.
Can't make the ticket machine do what I want it to do.
'Please please please Mrs ticket lady! Please help me buy a ticket to Pont Marie!'
People who pretend they don't know what you're saying so you're forced to repeat what you said badly the first time: this is she.
'Really? You're going to pull me up on the very first thing I try and say in French?
I've just left a country where only three people spoke to me in English for the entire two weeks. I have been verbally isolated for this entire time, in which I lost kilos because the effort to ask for the food became greater than my hunger. Do you understand? I am a very thin woman with a bit of cabin fever and I need a ticket to that place I can't say very well. That's all I need and I'll be on my way.'
On my way.
Gosh, the metro trains are very crowded aren't they? My big fluorescent pink bag is in everyone's way and everyone is angry about it but there's nothing I can do... or say. I ride it out, proud that I have luggage.
'I've been somewhere! Somewhere reeeeally nice! Spain actually... that's why I have big luggage. Big holiday, big luggage. That's what they say. Been anywhere lately? My stop. Have to fly!'
Not a graceful exit and then as I trolley along the platform, I see that there are no lifts. Lots of stairs though. And then, the world shifts...
Through the tide of commuters pushing me along, I see a man, a really really handsome man, pushing his way through all the people towards me.
Enter! My Knight In Shining Armour!
In French, 'Can I elp you up se stair wis your big fluorescent pink bag?'
Melting like froi gras on a hot chorizo... 'Oui, merci!'
My KISA struggles with the luggage up the first flight of stairs but while I'm thinking about how to tell him how grateful I am when we get to the top, he vanishes! ...well, runs actually.
Was it my accent? The bag was very heavy but you don't save the maiden from the tower and then leave her to be raped and pillaged by the villagers!
I emerge from the metro, pulling a muscle in my groin as I heave the heavy bag onto the street.
I can't speak. There's the Seine, right in front of me. It's Sunday afternoon and people are sitting on the riverside eating baguettes and drinking wine and stealing the last of a warm sun from the cold day.
A few cobblestones later and I am here. In this so very lovely and Parisian apartment.
I am in Paris.