The next morning at 5 am, shortly after I arrived at King’s Cross St Pancras, I received a text from my friend. She had been called away to work in Toulouse and could not meet me anymore. I died a little inside when I read that message. My train was scheduled for 5.55am and I was wondering whether to just turn around and get on the first tube back home. My mom called, asking whether I was excited about going and warning me to be careful, and all the while I was thinking, “I don’t even know if I can get on the train, I don’t know what the point of my going anymore is, I really don’t know what I have signed myself up for.” In the end, I didn’t tell my mom, she just said a little prayer for me on the phone, bid me a safe journey and I got on the train.
Upon arrival at the Gare du Nord, I strolled up to the information desk and confidently asked where my hotel was located. Bear in mind, it’s not like I was staying somewhere well-known like the Four Seasons; it was just a cheap little hotel. The guy at the desk asked me what area the hotel was in, to which I responded: “I don’t know”. He asked if I knew the metro stop for the hotel to which I responded sweetly “I don’t know, which is why I need your help.” He probably thought, “look at this silly girl who doesn’t even know where she’s going!” He wasn’t far off! He dug out his A-Z (pre-Google maps days too) and took the time to carefully explain and write down which trains to take, where to change trains, which Metro stop to get off and how to get to my hotel from the station. Bless him!
Despite the man’s best efforts and clear directions, I still ended up having to ask for directions when I got out of the Metro (I am so directionally challenged it is tragic!). I finally got to my hotel, laid on my bed and bawled. I cried because I didn’t intend to be on my own. I cried because I had really been looking forward to this trip and all of a sudden someone had just destroyed my plans. I cried because I was in Paris and I felt like I couldn’t enjoy it because I was all alone. What was I gonna do? I had a moment of clarity. I had been wanting to travel for so long and now, I was just gonna stay in the hotel, for the next three days and do what – cry? Nope, that was not gonna happen. This is what happened instead. I got off my bed, wiped my face, said a little prayer, which was basically “Lord, we’re doing this together”, then set out to discover Paris a whole new way.