Wednesday, September 7, 2011

à bientôt

I know it's been a while since I posted.  I just couldn't do it.  I didn't know how to say good bye.  The leaving was hard and not without tears.  

Paris has been home for over 7 months and it was wonderful.  But home is in California too.  And the closer we got to the day of our flight home, the more conflicted I became.  I love Paris. I love home.  I've missed my family.  I'll miss Paris and the friends we made there.

The last two weeks were a flurry of activity; squeezing in all the things we wanted to do before we went home, and getting ready to go home.  And packing.  Packing was hard - 7 months of living in Paris didn't fit in 4 suitcases.  Not surprisingly, it was one suitcase per month.  Seven suitcases, two computer bags, and one camera bag.  And thousands of photos.  I don't know how many really.  I should count them up at some point.

Our flights were early on Sunday, September 4th.  We decided to move out of the apartment <sniff> on Saturday, the 3rd, then take a taxi to a hotel by Charles De Gaulle Airport so that leaving would be easier the following day.  That meant our last night in Paris was Friday.  The very last thing I wanted to do was go up the Eiffel Tower.  If you've been following along, you know why.  If you haven't, you should read my post about it from February

It was hot and muggy on Friday. We headed over to the tower at about 7:30 pm and got in line for tickets (couldn't get reservations - even a full week before!).  The lines weren't that long, but they weren't moving either.  I started getting annoyed because it was so hot and humid and uncomfortable and I was looking forward to a cool breeze at the top.  We finally made it through the line and onto an elevator to the 2nd level.  Then we waited in another long line to take the elevator to the top. 

There were a ton of people up there, more than I had ever seen before.  And there was no breeze.  It was hot, humid and ridiculously crowded at the top.  We made our circuit, fighting our way to the outer edge so we could look out over the city and take photos.  Even that proved nearly impossible as we were constantly being bumped, and at one point, a little girl climbed on me!  My last visit to Tour Eiffel was less than stellar.  Still, I got a few nice photographs, especially this one:

Last night in Paris, from atop Tour Eiffel

I'm glad it worked out that way.

Instead of an emotional and teary good bye to Paris, I was anxious to get off the tower and go home.  Home to our apartment in Paris, and home to California.

We are back in the U.S. now.  Back in California.  As I went through passport control, the officer asked where I had been.

"France", I said.

"How long were there?" he asked.

"Seven months."

As he handed me my passport, he looked at me and smiled. 

"Welcome home", he said.  It choked me up.  It was good to be home.  

Next was the customs officer.  

"You've been in France.  How was it?"

"Lovely", I replied.

"Welcome home", he said with a big, cheery smile.

I started to cry.  It really was good to be home.

In case you're wondering, I'm not done here.  As I mentioned, I have thousands of photographs and many more stories to tell.  I'm glad my blogging worked out this way too - I can't think of a better way to remember our fabulous experience in France than to continue telling stories and sharing photographs.  And I don't really have to say goodbye.  Hopefully, it's more like "see you later alligator!"  So stick around, there's more to come!