KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK
My brain did a somersault in response to the sudden knocking on my door. It was pitch black, sometime around the wee hour of 6 AM. With my eyes cracked open by about a nanometer, I hobbled out of bed to open the door.
"Robyn, I'm leaving!" Valerie had an early flight back home to Florida and I told her to wake me up before she left.
"Ahhhhhhhhh," I moaned in a semi-comatose state. I wasn't fully awake, but I could make out her blurry visage without my glasses.
"It was cool being house mates!"
"Ahhhhhh," I moaned as we hugged. "I liked having you as a housemate too." I really did.
"Maybe we'll see each other again. I may visit New York!"
"That'd be cool," I weakly sputtered, still half-comatose. "Have a good trip!"
I closed the door and plopped back into bed while wishing that I had been more awake to give a better good-bye. I was certainly tired enough to fall asleep, but as I lied there I could hear the loud echoing of the knocking of her luggages as she went down the stairs and the rapid-fire clicking of the luggage wheels as she dragged them over the tiled walkway. The sound of her leaving the apartment seemed to drag forever. My body tensed up at the auditory reminder of my isolation. I eventually heard the heavy click of the main driveway door opening, the last clunks of the luggages being yanked over the threshold, and the final click of the door closing.
She was gone. I was completely alone in the apartment.
and then the sun came up
How would I spend my last day in Paris? Alone, mainly. I had to buy last minute perishable items (what else would I bring home?), pack them, and then...well, I didn't plan much further than that.
First stop was my favorite bakery, Poujauran. I took the 9 train to Alma-Marceau and walked over the bridge to the 7th arrondissement. Even though I had walked the same path many times during the semester to get to my psychology class, it felt different knowing I wasn't in a rush to go to school. I actually looked at my surroundings for once and thought, "Damn, it's really nice here." [sigh]
I told my mum I was going ot get her chocolate. Her response was that she had enough chocolate and was more interested in freshly baked madeleines, possibly her favorite baked good. (If you're wondering, she has since told me that she would've liked more chocolate. Hey, that was my original plan!) Although madeleines are a well known French sweet (you can buy packages of them in vending machines on metro platforms, at least), I wouldn't say that they're commonly found in patisseries. Poujauran is the only place I could think of that would have stacks of them, freshly made. Other places may also carry them by the mountain-full (I know you can get them at Fauchon and Le Grand Epicerie, for example), but since I've spent more time at Poujauran than any other bakery, the images of their foodstuffs have been burned into my memory. :)
I bought six madeleines and two financiers, but after trying one of the madeleines (which I was never very fond of before), I realized that needed lots more. Buttery, moist, dense and slightly nutty, it tasted like no other madeleine I had ever eaten before. I went back later in the day and bought six more.
Next stop was Pierre Herme. I waited in a line that didn't snake outside, but was long enough to fill up the entire interior of the shop. I only added to the waiting time for the people behind me by taking seemingly forever to choose what flavors I wanted for the boxes of macarons I was buying for friends. I also bought a large box for my family that thankfully came pre-packed. I felt bad for forcing the friendly, young woman behind the counter to speak English with me, not that she didn't know enough to understand what I was saying, but...I dunno, I always felt bad when I couldn't order things in French.
The man who rang up my purchase automatically spoke to me in English as he probably overheard my macaron ordering and he had helped me once during a previous visit. I was sad to think that I may not see him again.
When I got back home I set my gmail chat status to something like, "noooooooo". Erik messaged me with "yeeeeeeeeeeeeees".
Erik: Why so glum?
me: im leaving paris tomorrow
and i know i should be doing stuff today. like..make the most of my last day
but im kinda just bummed. so.
Erik: Remember to stck up un those macarons
me: I DID! :|
Erik: hehe. I hope it passes through customs allright in these terror-days
me: haha. well. i hope chocolates and cookies are okay.
not like im carrying foie gras and duck confit
Erik: who knows what happens to macarons under low preassure...
Not that I made it known to Erik, but I was getting progressively sadder while thinking about how alone I was in the apartment and that it was my last day. Accompanied by no one, I felt free to cry, even just a pathetically little amount. I wasn't bursting with sadness, just...feeling sad. I got out my funk by devising a plan:
- Go to Monoprix to look for plastic containers for my foodstuffs
- Go inside Notre Dame because I had only looked at the outside a gazillion times
- If I couldn't find anything at Monoprix, look for containers at BHV
Monoprix didn't have anything large enough for my many boxes of chocolates and macarons, so on to Notre Dame I went.
It was pretty. And full of people.
I strolled under the setting Paris sun to BHV on the north side of the Seine. But on the way I passed...
...freaky poster of a fluffy haired boy with an abnormally large head and baguette-loaded armpits. I have no idea why I didn't buy this poster as it was obviously meant for me. How so?
The previous day when Adelyn and I went to Montmartre I insisted on getting my photo taken by the somewhat horrifying and gaudy (although nicely done) painting on the backside of a booth outside of the Abbesses metro station (and to confirm wikipedia, yes, that sucker is deep, and underwent renovation that removed all the paintings from the stairwell along with any tiling around the platform, although I assume they will add it back later so you don't feel like you're in an abandoned sewer) featuring the baguette boy, baguette boy's blue-haired twin and a random puppy as they frolic in front of a gleaming Sacre Coeur. Come on, you'd totally want your photo taken with it too.
Um, anyway. BHV had just what I needed on the 2nd floor: a huge ass plastic container. It luckily fit perfectly into my luggage (or luckily, my luggage was empty enough to fit it in).
And everything I bought fit perfectly inside the container! Wow. I was impressed by my packing job. Although it may look like I bought a lot of stuff (I think the container holds 25 quarts...or 25 units of something), I wasn't able to buy gifts for all my friends, not so much because I forgot but because I couldn't think of the best thing to get them. I also stupidly miscalculated how many boxes of chocolates to get despite making a list of names and counting them, meaning that one friend will not get anything or I will have to rethink what gifts I wanted to give to whom. I didn't figure this out until today, six days after I bought the chocolates; if I realized this problem last Thursday I could've easily gotten another box the next day. Apparently my counting skills are on par with that of a four-year old's.
I feel dumb. Not that any friend will know that I meant to give them chocolate if I don't give it to them or care too much that I can't count, but I still feel bad. And very dumb. I wouldn't hire me if I were a business looking to recruit young blood.
On the way back home from BHV I stopped by Poujauran to pick up more madeleines and a slice of apple tart and I went to Julien to get my favorite sandwich, Poulet St. Moret, for dinner. Methinks I ate too fast due to hunger, tastiness factor of food, and the void of emotional sadness that could only be filled by my favorite foods. The result was an upset stomach.
I took bus 63 home from Quai d'Orsay/the America Church instead of walking across the river to the Alma-Marceau metro station since I was too lazy to walk (with a bag of baked goods and a clunky plastic box) and I didn't feel like attempting to use my faulty metro ticket once again. Due to some weird karma, my monthly ticket completely stopped working the previous day's afternoon. Unless I unknowingly passed through some weird metro ticket negating magnetic field, I couldn't think of any reason for it to not work.
Funny how the day I rode the metro the most (seven times) was also the day my ticket wouldn't work. I became well acquainted with the phrase, "Mon billet ne fonctionne pas". Whether that is the best French to use I have no idea, but it got the point across. There didn't seem to be a set method of how to deal with non fonctionne-ing tickets. Upon telling him/her my problem, the metro officer would either:
- take my ticket and do something to it to make it work
- take my ticket, find out it didn't work and let me through the turnstile
- take my ticket, find out it didn't work and give me a single use ticket
- not take my ticket and let me through the turnstile
Number two happened the most, but now you know the four situations you could find yourself in. Ideally, your ticket would actually work.
I was saved from wallowing in sadness that night by going to Mike and Rion's apartment to celebrate Mike's 32nd birthday and whatever end-of-the-year holiday you happened to partake in. Mike and Rion are the editors of Parisist; I couldn't leave Paris without meeting them! They're insanely nice, warm, cute people, along with their cozy apartment.
I think Mike was the only one to actually sit on "Santa's" lap. ;)
...And I think he was the only one to get whipped by Le Meg.
Rion lit the sparkly candles on Mike's birthday bûche (log) cake that threatened to burn down the apartment with their volatile projectile flares.
We were afraid Mike's face would catch on fire, but he thankfully emerged unscathed. And then we got cake. Wee!
Although I can't help but feel uncomfortable at party-type things where I am alone and thus don't know how to act any differently than "awkward" (that was the first party-type thing that I had ever gone to by myself...really), I had a good time and was sad to meet so many nice people the night before I had to leave Paris! WHAT THE HELL. Besides Mike and Rion, I mainly talked with Meg, Jussara and Nabekor, all sweet, funny, interesting people. Damn, why didn't I meet them earlier? Poop on me.
Goodbye my clean, well-lit, cavernous, non-smelly Parisian metro station. I'll miss you when I'm waiting for the subway in NYC.
I said my last goodnight to Paris.
the next day
Time to go home. Dammit. I packed my last things, threw out junk I didn't need and waited for Mare to come by for our last goodbyes.
MARE DREW ME A CARD! [cue loud, drawn out "awww"] We recreated the scene on her card while sitting in the kitchen. Because...we twins. But only if I'm wearing the white afro hat. Otherwise we're just the awkward combination of a short, Chinese girl and a tall, non-Chinese girl.
She helped me take out the trash, carried one of my luggages and waited outside with me for my scheduled Parishuttle pick-up. I felt so lucky to have her with me. It made my departure a smidge less depressing.
And then at 11:20 AM, I left. About 12 hours later I arrived in NJ. And here I am. In NJ. Excuse me while I contain my excitement.
It's not so bad—I'm already planning my trip back to Paris for spring break. :]
I'll be on a wee little trip from December 28th until January 1st to THE BEST PLACE EVER (not the official name, but that's what I'm calling it), so if I don't blog while I'm there, happy new year! This is the first time I'm actually doing something for New Year's Eve. Excited, I am.
18, rue Jean Nicot, 7th
Metro: La Tour-Moubourg (8)