Posts tagged crazy moves
Fear, Love and Magic

February 9, 2015

kris fear love .png

There is an extreme distinctness about this that feels crazy, a deja vu, a primordial warning ... the tired kind that still hasn't relented after all this time, sighing and flagging the situation, in vain, as dangerous, knowing all the while that I will walk right into it anyhow. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I asked myself what the fuck I was doing, at least 57 times on that drive.

The French back country road wound around and between the trees like a rubber band, slinging us forward into the darkness; the night ominous and vacant, the chill of midnight February air held still - all of our surroundings in a time capsule, frozen at bay. The remnants of what could hardly be classified as a town, scattered and long since abandoned. With no street lamps, the only movement - the stark shadows of tall trees cast in the car’s high beams before us as we crept onward.

“Um,” I leant forward to better see the driver’s GPS from the back seat, squinting in the blackness to make out the directions, and then up towards the eerie abyss in front of us. “It’s saying that the house is just up this road a bit, right?” I bit my lip, glancing nervously at the calm faces of the strangers beside me as the silver four door sedan climbed forward.

A German, an Austrian, an Indonesian and an American. All strangers headed to different places in the name of some common direction, inhabiting the same car, brought together by chance and convenience. I had shared cars with so many strangers before but on this February midnight on this uninhabited, pitch black country road, I wondered again if this was all some elaborate scam to kidnap and eat me. I looked down at my dead phone, pressing the center button repeatedly and willing it to come alive. Dead. I was alone.

I had never met the woman they were delivering me to, and the notion that they were all in on the scheme together crept its way up the back of my throat. Maybe there would be a ritualistic sacrifice and field burning and I’d melt away into a pile of smoke and ashes without anyone knowing where I had disappeared to. I would never be found again.

I thought of Steve, having only left him 8 hours ago in Paris, of his gloved hands on my cheeks, his misty blue eyes, holding tears captive behind a penetrable film of glass, piercing right into mine. I had stood for a long while on the corner of that street in the grey morning, after our goodbye, watching the blue double decker bus that ripped us apart, taking him back to London and leaving me to head south- further into the belly of France. The warm face I had come to know so well disappeared behind black tinted windows as his bus rolled forward, but I could feel his palm pressed against the window looking back out at me, and the tears ran down my wind burned cheeks, freezing against cracked skin as soon as they slipped.

Sometimes you fall in love all at once - reckless and face first. But most of the time, you fall slowly - a collection of moments, a tangle of yarn starting with a simple twist, braided strands weaving together, until you wake to find that you are so completely knotted in one another that there's no foreseeable way to pull back apart. And that’s how it was for me with him. Slowly but inevitably, like the trickling of a downward stream.

The right side of my head, pressed to the cool back seat window, left a foggy halo of condensed haze against the glass. Rolling, French hills raced past us; the cacophony of German, Austrian, and Indonesian language hummed about the car, a swirling buzz, leaving me in a dazed sort of state outside of time. Beyond the glass, the world outside was magic. It was one of those setting skies that seizes you whole instantly. The kind of light that pierces the clouds tangibly, forcing you to resist every urge to reach out and touch it. And you just know that Heaven is looking down upon you in that glow. Someone has to be. The metal windmills, scattered across vacant fields, churned on in its presence and it struck me as odd that we would ever think to harness such forces with something as powerful as that sky so far from our control. I didn’t reach for my camera or my journal. I just sat, inevitably going south as Steve traveled north, watching those three fluorescent vapor trails scorching the sky. Tiny but powerful like rockets blazing on. And I knew wherever he was, he was watching them too.

“I think this is it,” The driver, Phillip, announces as the wheels slow in a steady rumble against the gravel.

Fingers on the door handle, I squinted out into the darkness as the sedan came to a halt, and could just make out the silhouette of two figures aside the road waving, a weak light straining through tall hedges behind them, casting warped, slender, giant-like shadows stretching out towards us against the road. Taking a deep breath, I thank these strange travelers, open the backseat door and get out.

Phillip follows first, exiting the driver side door, making his way to the trunk. Startled, I turn back to the car as the passenger door opens, as well as the remaining backseat door. Exit the German, the Indonesian, and the Austrian. This was it- they were all in on it - this plan to burn me alive. One by one, they each hugged the strange French woman who I was about to spend the next few months of my life with, took my bags from the trunk and gathered round her and her boyfriend like they were saying goodbye to old relatives. (Or Hello to partners in crime.) I thanked them each again, kindly and urgently, willing them to go before this did in fact turn into some ancient deity sacrifice. They seemed hesitant to leave and I wasn’t sure which I was supposed to be more afraid of - my deliverers or my welcomers...

Meeting Mimaw in Santorini

“Krissss … “ Meg whines exasperated from behind me. I can almost feel the breath from her sigh on the back of my neck. Actually, I wish I could. She doesn’t need to say anymore. I know exactly how she feels. It’s hot. That stagnant, sticky, thick, brick wall heat where any amount of breaths you take are in vain, leaving you even more winded than before. I had heard July in Greece was brutal but this was on another level.

“Meg. In case you were wondering, I am not having fun either,” I try a laugh but don’t have enough energy for it, attempting to wipe the stinging sweat from my eyes but blinding myself instead with the sweat from the back of my hand. I look back at my younger sister, her long brown hair tied up in a bun with valiant attempt, now sagging and dripping under the relentless sun. The light has drawn each and everyone of her adorable freckles out to meet it. Her tiny, green eyes are nearly shut into squints as she looks at me with a pained expression and I smile inwardly relishing in one of her most endearing childhood habits.

This is the most beautiful place we have been in Greece thus far and rivals for the most beauty I have ever seen in my entire life, but it’s too hot and we are too tired to appreciate it. We woke up this morning in a fit of chocolate and Sagnaki in Kamari, a small beach town in Santorini, with no idea where we were staying once we reached Oia, just knowing we had to move. Now that we are here, we’ve already struck out once despite our pleading attempts to sleep in cots on the roof at the last hostel.

The marble streets are straight out of a Grecian dream and the flowers that overhang above our heads in tapestries of magenta are passed by without enough brain capacity to yet realize them. Donkeys pass through the narrow marble streets carrying cases of water or suitcases, led by sun-scorched men with whips. They push around corners and ramble through the crowded narrow streets, eyes mocking our own exhaustion and brushing up against our sweaty skin as they pass, leaving a dust of dark brown hair against our sun tortured arms and legs.

“She said this place might give us a room, it’s just a bit further,” I assure Meg in broken syllables without looking back, securing my palms on my thighs, pressing down with each step, willing myself up this hill. It feels like I’m carrying a 250 lb. dead body in my backpack and I am not entirely sure that I am not at this point. A mass of Asian tourists creep along in front of us, parasails in hand, faces wrapped in embroidered scarves to protect them from the blistering fire in the sky above us. It’s all I can do to not start a stampede to get through them.

After an abundance of entrances and exits between these quaint shops, knocking over delicate embroideries and glass blown extravagances in a disgruntled fit of discomposure and awkward weight trying to find accommodation, we’ve been led towards a home that may or may not take us in. Meg is silent following me and I know she is having a terrible time. I urge us both to keep moving up the stone hill and we make a right as instructed between an art shop and clothing boutique, both displaying their creations outside – vibrant seasides in oil paint and delicate dresses against the caramel stone buildings. The marble walkways turn to ragged, uneven stone and we duck under magenta flowered canopies, a drab and dripping blasphemy in comparison.

A wooden sign, reading Marcus Rooms, hangs on its side from a post jutting from a dusty, white washed house. “Here,” I tell Meg as I push open the faded blue doors that swing open like saloon shutters from an old western. They open up to a courtyard full of white linen hanging on close lines blowing ever so slightly under the scorching sun, also desperate for the slightest movement in the air. An elderly Greek man turns while hanging the sheets and stares at us. He looks confused and intruded on and I’m sure I’ve walked into some family home.

 “Um, hi. We were wondering if maybe you had a room we could stay in tonight,” I ask. I can hear my heartbeat against my eardrums and the throbbing pulse banging beneath the skin in my neck.

The wirey man is balding with a few remains of stubborn grey fighters poking from his scalp and his expression does not change, as he looks up from his fogged up spectacles. “We don’t have any rooms,” he says in a thick Greek accent while observing our deflated composure and faces. I nod, feigning nonchalance, pressing my lips into a forced smile and we turn to go.

“Let me ask wife,” he interjects abruptly as we are turning our backs, “Come.” And we follow the impossibly tanned, old man through more overhanging bed sheets and faded blue swinging doors to an adjacent cement terrace a few feet above the narrow road. It looks much the same like everything in Greece does. White washed with blue trim. I wonder again how they got the whole country to agree on this color scheme but I don’t have enough energy to sustain the idea. Pushing up the sleeves of his hemp smock, the man shouts for his wife in what sounds like aboriginal mating calls in his native Greek tongue. An apparition of a woman (whom Meg and I later take to calling Mimaw) appears in a floral scrap, floor length gown; curvy with much more to her than her husband, her dark long hair hangs in coarse, waist length tangles, highlighted in a cloudy gray that matches deep gray eyes peering at us behind a black raccoon mask of make up. Her face appears to be visibly melting off her chin and hangs in folds of layer cake in her neck. My hand instinctively moves to my own neck, seeing if I, too, have melted under the sun like this fabrication of a withered woman before us.

“We have no room,” she reiterates her husband’s first response and the four of us stand facing each other in silence for a moment. I know I should regain composure, tell them that it’s fine, and form some sort of idea about what to do next, but instead I just stand in front of them zombie like and blank faced; Meg at my side, a taller and slimmer frame showcasing the same empty stare. The couple turns towards each other as Meg and I remain dripping lost puppies waiting outside of their harsh Greek whispers.

“We have small room downstairs. We don’t rent it. But, we give it to you if you want for small price,” the melting raccoon tells us.

I glance at Meg and we both nod silently in grateful approval. Mimaw disappears, telling us to sit while she cleans up the basement storage chambers for us. We both collapse into the cushioned bench while we wait. There is a floor length mirror peering back at us on the other side of the bench, which I resent whole heartedly and I stare blankly at our sweat soaked reflections for a moment until Meg and I simultaneously erupt with wheezing laughter at the state of ourselves. Mimaw’s husband hands us a glass of juice and sitting opposite, watches silently as we chug the entire thing. Still dripping in sweat, we declare it to be the most delicious homemade juice of all time. Stubbornly optimistic, we make up stories while we wait, about Mimaw picking fresh fruit this morning and painstakingly squeezing it into this godly nectar while her husband washes the linens against wooden boards by the river at sunrise. Mimaw and Pop Pop. We decide that we love them. (Tomorrow we will find out the juice comes from a knock off brand container found in discount supermarkets and the following day Mimaw will shout at and rebuke us in Greek after our knocks at the kitchen door cause her to bring us a jug of water completely naked. Pop Pop will never speak to us again after this first encounter.)

Mimaw returns above ground carrying a bundle of dirty laundry and I have never wanted to shower and lay down more than right now. We thank her repeatedly before we turn to go downstairs, but she grabs us to show us around. I take a deep breath as I follow her around the house, not caring in the slightest what she’s saying but trying to be polite in exchange for her hospitality. Beautiful antique wooden chests hold silverware and cracked china, an overstuffed fridge full of groceries, light bounds through fresh white curtains and bounces off each white wall… Our footsteps creak over the wide wooden floor boards and an open room catches my eye, pressed white sheets tucked over a beautiful queen bed, the sunlight streaming in the open windows through elegant, sheer curtains. I can taste the feeling of sinking into that plush bed; it’s so close it almost hurts.

"Thank you," I say eager to get to our room as the tour ends. Picking up our bags, we turn towards the steps from the deck that Mimaw had come from. She stops us again and motions us over to a table full of picturesque books of Santorini, pressing one of the heat absorbed hardbacks against Meg’s torso and into her hands, as she thumbs through the others. Meg’s eyes widen as she mouths “the book is on fire,” nearly dropping it. We oblige Mimaw for a moment and nod brainlessly as she flips through the colorful pages and details all the important buildings and where her house is in relationship to each of them - the old churches (all 37 of them), the famous windmill and all the unfamous windmills, red beach, black beach, white beach, and all of their cousin, aunt, and uncle beaches, complete with her rankings of best to worst, intertwining with her life story. Mimaw grew up in the town of Oia. Born and raised in this very home, she bleeds pride and admiration for the town and I can’t bare to break her heart cutting her off, so Meg and I stare glassy eyed at the pages while her broken English washes over us and wait for her to release us.

Somewhere in between showing us the tiny dot where we stood in comparison to the windmill in 15 different views in 4 different books, and her returning to the beaches to change her mind about their ranking order, I lose my mind. Almost certain that someone has slipped me acid this morning, I forgo all certainty and clarity of where I am, with whom, and why. “Just one more actually,” Mimaw says for the 82nd time, holding us hostage with her finger in the air as she flips through pages, "So many surprises to discover."  Black spots are beginning to appear in my vision as I restrain with everything I am from being rude, shutting her up, and at last resort, knocking her out so we can lay down. I’m still sweating and I think I’m going blind. I hear a small snort of laughter while my vacant eyes bore holes into Mimaw’s back; I can see Meg out of the corner of my eye, biting her lip while watching my pained expression.

One excruciating hour later, we follow Mimaw’s lead and climb down the small opening in the white concrete floor beneath the outdoor terrace, ducking around and down the winding, cement stairs. We are underground now in a narrow cave, open on either side to the street just a few feet above and everything down here feels wet, including the air and the walls. The door to our room is swollen in the heat and doesn’t shut and its window is missing the pane, leaving a gaping hole, covered in an ancient hanging tea cloth. Inside is a windowless room, dank with white wash cement walls arched in the shape of a rising sun above three beds, box springs poking through starched sheets, and broken, wooden headboards that are nailed into the wall instead of attached to the bed frames.

“You can use this refrigerator,” She opens the door of an empty, yellow stained fridge and the door falls off. “Use the one upstairs,” she slams it shut, turning her back on the hanging open door and keeping her eyes ahead, motioning us to the bathroom.

It’s the size of a basinet; faded pink tiles cover the floor, walls, and ceiling, accented with ornate mold decoupage. There is a toilet leaking onto a wet floor, a sink standing like a desk in front of it so close that you may wash your hands while sitting on said toilet, and a detachable shower head above so that you may also wash your hair while sitting on said toilet.

The hallway leads to two storage closets and three crumbling stone steps climbing to what used to be a miniature door, perfect for an elf but big enough for a person to duck through to exit to or enter from the cobblestone street we came from earlier. There is no longer a door here, but simply a wooden frame in a cement wall leaving the entrance open. The tan ankles of a couple pass by our faces and the sounds of their petty disagreement wash inside and echo off the old concrete walls. But nevermind the multitude of broken openings for possible serial killers in the night, Mimaw repeats “safe, safe, safe,” as she waves her arm at the 4 by 5 view we have of the outside, “you keep open,” she says with finality as if we have a choice, picking up old clothes and broken objects on her way out.

Meg and I are still laughing about our current whereabouts after Mimaw has gone, as we spin around the corridor pointing out each delicacy as if we are amidst upmost royalty. “Ohh, look at these lovely little dreams,” I coo while stroking my fingers across a wilted and weather stained curtain as if it is the finest of lace.

Meg giggles and joins in without missing a beat. “Oh yes, but what about this antique craftsmanship,” She circles the tiny wooden chair sat just next to the crumbling stairs and killer entrance of a window. “A throne for Queens no doubt,” she puts her hands out to her side in a curtsy air and sits daintily on the dark stained wood.

No sooner has Meg delivered the most grace she has ever possessed, all four of the chair’s legs buckle underneath her, dismantling her poised face and leaving her in a heap of wooden shards and dust on the cement floor with a shriek. Now I’m laughing. Tumbled over and shaking in belly aching laughter as Meg looks up at me with a mixture of pain, confusion, and hysteria in a cloud of dust and wood chips.

After a very cramped and very interesting shower in the wet room, we crawl out of the open wooden frame in the wall and out onto the cobblestone path, ready to discover every secret and capture all the pixie dust that oozes from every crevice of this ancient town.

Greek legend tells an ancient tale of a furious Poseidon turning the nymphs into these very Cycladic islands, revengefully trapping their whimsical souls and enticing trickeries into 12 beautiful land masses that he could keep an eye on. If I didn’t know better (and sometimes I’m certain I don’t), I would swear that you could feel the personality and soul of each nymph thumping from beneath the ground of every individual and very different island. All twelve beautiful and unique captured in stone, but Santorini being without a doubt the most seductive and romantic of all. The gem of the Aegean.

“Around every corner …. surprise,” Meg mimics Mimaw’s speech from earlier, “here,” she stretches her arms out and bends at the waist as Mimaw had explaining every picture, bowing as we approach a bend in the road, “surprise.”

The buildings, the marble foot paths, windmills – everything is blindingly florescent white like the other island towns, however Oia is speckled in peach churches and coral corner stores, The town is set miles above on the top of a massive hill, surrounded by water so offensively blue that it hurts our feelings, matching the turquoise blue of the building’s shutters and church steeples. Each narrow road winds in between tall buildings, leaving every upcoming turn and street a surprise until rounded.

“At edge of cliff,” I bend with open arms, “surprise.” The path stops and opens up to the sea at the edge of the cliff; luminescent white buildings tumble down the mountain like a rolling avalanche of snow ready to disappear into the bluest sea I’ve ever seen, hungrily awaiting its approach.

“You go find them all,” Meg echoes Mimaw’s Greek laced English instruction, and we barrel down the treacherous 289 winding stone steps to the beckoning sea, laughing and sliding the whole way without a thought or care for the return journey upwards.

Paros: You Dream, You

We arrive in Paros covered in fleas and hideously offensive sunburns. My lips are so swollen that they put Angelina Jolie’s to shame, my metatarsals are still slewed so I walk with a limp and I’m pretty sure I have kidney stones. I am not well.

Squinting in the bright midday sun as the ferry ramp lowers to let us onto land, we are met with a quaint sea side town, glowing white buildings, each with turquoise shutters, doors, and accents matching the impossible blue sea at its feet. Even the rare act of defiance was graffitied in a respectable matching blue. Small fishing boats of every color bob excitedly at their leashes next to the road and the whole town seems to be awaiting our arrival, waving us in with ‘welcome home’ smiles; even the air smells wholesome and life affirming.

“I love this island,” Meg states with conviction just before we touch land, “I want to have a baby with this place.”

My younger sister Meg, has my father’s exact small and deep set green eyes, as well as his relentless and diligent obligation to planning. So it was no surprise that the day after I left on my trip back in May, she was telling me that we needed to book ferries and hostels for when she visited me in Greece in July. Despite being the worrier of the both of us, her ever futile desire to embrace the present like her older sister, keeps her much more open than my father to unexpected turns and breezy whims and I was addicted to pulling them out of her. Thus, we had ignored her instincts and planned nothing.

Meg had arrived in Greece only 4 days ago. After a night in Athens where the closest we got to culture was sitting atop the roof of our hotel looking out at the Acropolis and discussing on how to tell our Catholic father that Zeus was, in fact, real, we had set out for Mykonos, full of promise and excitement -the first island in our two week Cycladic Island hopping adventure.

Mykonos – the island of wild international adventures – one we had ALMOST saved for last because we didn’t believe we could top, was in fact a cesspool of sex-craved tourists, nightclubs, thatched roofs, and aids. And it had utterly destroyed and stripped us of everything we were worth in a matter of three days. (Blog post may or may not be released to the world at a later date depending on the offensiveness of its nature.)

(Post Mykonos Meg at the port awaiting escape)

(Post Mykonos Meg at the port awaiting escape)

This island is the supreme opposite to the last, full of motherly good will and breath taking tenderness. There are no nightclubs or more importantly, Australians; everyone is Greek and to our surprise, they love us. We are taken in at a small family owned hotel by the sea, Grivas, and Meg instantly longs to be apart of this family, desperate for their love and approval. The woman is tall and blonde with a natural, earthy beauty and a two-year-old baby girl on her hip as she shows us to our room. Her husband is tall and broad, handsome with dark Greek skin and can be found anywhere from fixing light bulbs to rocking toddlers, or bartending on any given night.

We spend most of our days at the restaurant down the street where they know us by name and love us almost as much as we love them eating everything in sight that resembles a gyro. Gyro pizza please; is it possible to get the fettuccini with a gyro on top; yes, I’ll take Saganaki but please add a gyro and double the fried cheese. Everything is laid back and peaceful here, so unlike the tourist trap of Mykonos we just escaped. 

Post Paros arrival Meg at our favorite restaurant

Post Paros arrival Meg at our favorite restaurant

Against our brother’s wishes, we decide to rent an ATV and out of stubborn spite, I demand that I know how to drive one. Her name is Gertrude, this ATV we are given and she is a hot mess, red paint splintering from her core leaving white splotches on her body, her once black racing stripes are now gray and melted, but she is a fighter, spitting and spewing as she heaves breathlessly to get up every hill. Flying past cars and motor bikes on downward slopes only proves to be embarrassing once they pass us laughing as Gerty fails us in a mock attempt to get up every slope, slowing to about 2 mph from 30.

Still, she whips us around every curve and bend in the rumbling roads along the coast, the inconceivable turquoise water whizzing past at our side, a vision of sea foam and mermaid tears that can’t be anything but mythological. We stop at a forgotten folding rock of ancient ruins jutting out towards the sea and venture lightly into this ancient habitat, careful not to wake whomever clearly still claims it. The bright sun and piercing blue waters peer through the cracks in the walls and the wind whips through the windows, rapaciously whipping into scornful torrents within the abandoned stone walls echoing the howls of Aphrodite’s broken heart. A crumbling stone carving outside along the bank reveals an ancient Greek script translating “with their lives in the embrace of the waves,” and now I’m sure we need to live here, right in this stone wreckage left behind in a fury of Olympic waves.

Meg agrees and so it is settled, we will move in with the Grivas family, and live in this little village until we are as old and dilapidated as this ancient rock temple. 

Capri with Mario

Mario is just about as tan as anyone could be, with dark hair and those Italian eyes like melted chocolate. His sunglasses hang around his neck as he commands the twelve of us on the dock, oozing charisma and explaining how this excursion is going to go. Everyone obliges his jokes even though it’s far too early for laughs. Everyone but John, who is in a dark place this morning and would most likely be whimpering in a corner had he been on his own. Instead, his mouth is forced into a thin, straight line, in desperate attempts to coax strength back into his broad shoulders and embrace this Capri adventure.

Mario is our skipper for the day and John swears every skipper in the world is named Mario, although I am unsure of how many he’s met, I believe him. Mario asks for a brave soul to be the leader of the group for the day. The group consists of twelve very disappointingly dull others and I instinctually volunteer John, nudging him foreword. I look up at the exasperated horror in his eyes, remembering how ill he is and it’s too late to bite my tongue. John is the leader of the gang.

Shortly after boarding the small boat, a suicidal Mario drives us abruptly close to the cliffs and I am sure he will smash right into them. He stops below a “fresh water” waterfall pouring down from miles above us and John leans and hangs over the front of the boat, letting it pour down over his head and exorcise last night’s demons.

We are dealt a very dull and lacking hand for friends aboard. A sixty-year-old Gilligan sits to my left with a Chestershire cat smile; he laughs and shakes in his blue and white striped sailor’s outfit with his eyes closed in smiley squints as his skin slides down his face. I can’t hide my judgmental dismay as he flops around the boat with the balance of a 4-month-old infant while his skinny blonde wife cackles like an ally cat. An Australian couple much younger than John and I lay out on the boat in boredom and are about as interesting to engage as a moldy rock. A wiry, frail excuse for a boy lays down next to John in a fit of pale seasick horror as the love of his life dismisses him and checks out every other male aboard. Mario is looking better by the minute.

We fly across the choppy Mediterranean Sea, bouncing about, salt sprayed and laughing. Our neighboring passengers panic at the choppy state of the water; Gilligan tosses about the boat as seasick boy near vomits on John’s foot. Completely sure that we will capsize and not caring in the slightest if we do, John and I indulge in fits of laughter. The sun glistens off the turquoise sea and Mario cracks jokes that are lost in the wind. With the Amalfi coast at our back and a vague rock temple covered in mist ahead of us, we cut through the sea.

There is nothing that can prepare you for the majestic awe of the towering rock that is Capri, standing small in circumference but ferocious and powerful in stature in the middle of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The boat falls silent as we near the mirage, craning our necks looking up at the breathtaking, chill-producing and terrifying beauty of this island mountain. Looking like it just rose from middle earth, powerful and mighty, right in front of our eyes, this island could not possess anything but mystical powers, standing there amidst an eerie well of clouds. I stare wide eyed from the front of the boat, not daring to blink, in fear that the place might vanish at any moment right before our eyes, leaving our boat in it’s wake and us wondering if it was ever really there at all.

This ancient island standing in tremendous depths of water is a mass of limestone rock, Mario informs us; time has eroded holes beneath it and openings in its sides that have left caves that can be entered when the sea level is low. The light trapped in these caves underneath the mountain reflect off of the limestone and create an illuminating blue glowing space, which radiates in the dark caves from the water. That’s the somewhat scientific reason for this phenomenon; however I am so converted to magic in this moment that if someone told me Poseidon had banished one million tiny fairies to be trapped inside the mountain for all of time and their waling tears produced this radiant blue glow, I would have believed them.

The silent space we have all been frozen in passes when Mario docks the boat and allows us to swim in these mystical waters. The water is so salty that it seals your eyes shut and John and I laugh as we try to decipher just how deep this crystal clear expanse underneath us is.

“You know, this ocean floor here is covered with Octopus. They hide behind every rock right below you, but it’s almost impossible to catch them since the only thing you can see is their eyes,” Mario calls to us from the boat.

Well, that’s all he had to say. John is the last one left in the water, diving down in valiant attempts of catching this sneaky sea creature. We watch from the boat as Mario whispers to me that he’ll never get one and I smile, 100% sure that John will. I can just see him climbing back up the ladder and slapping down an Octopus at Mario’s feet, flashing him that sideways grin, cracking open a beer and sitting on the bow of the boat, casually telling Mario, “let’s go.” But time does not allow for John’s excursion and he has to be reeled in as we press onward.

We round the island and Mario has a terrible time trying to dock at the port, letting us off for a few hours to explore Capri, as he waits out at sea. After wandering aimlessly with our sea legs for a bit, we decide, fully addicted, that we need to rent a Vespa again and John, in his confident way, assures the renters that we will be just fine on the roads which are even more steep and narrow than the Amalfi coast. Hugging the right side, we whip around each sharp turn, climbing up the mountain, with a pair of headphones split between us; music blasting, we laugh and dance as we ride the cliffs. With swaying arms on either side, I bounce along on the back, singing each tune off key with all the heart I have and waving at passerbys.

We pull off at the top of the mountain in Anacapri at a small beach bar and watch swimmers get thrashed against the rocks with the wind. The island’s lighthouse stands among this top most point and we hike up to explore an ancient look out tower. With the wind whipping around us violently, standing at the edge of death on top of the world, every nerve ending buzzes with electricity in my ears mixing with the sound of waves crashing on the rocks miles below us and I am completely alive.

Windblown with risk still thumping behind our skulls, and a bottle of wine later, we meet the rest of our crew on the dock to wait for Mario. They shoot questions back and forth and compare shopping bags and stories of how they spent the past four hours before asking John and I what we did.

“A little exploring. Not much,” I respond, averting my gaze and then sneak a smile in John’s direction. They give a polite nod and go back to shopping chatter.

John leans over to me, “We are winning,” he whispers.

Vespas Down the Amalfi Coast

“Have you had any experience driving a motorized scooter?” The cute, Italian girl at the Vespa rental office asks John. Her dark, mahogany hair is falling out of her loose ponytail in long, silk strands that hang down over her bare shoulders. Her tight, black tube top is oddly paired with a baggy, green, floral pair of pants clearly made out of a hang glider and I can’t stop searching for the cord that’s got to be pumping air into them from somewhere.

John feigns a sympathetic laugh, “yeah, not a problem. I own a motorcycle,” he smiles at her.

“Oh! Wonderful; we’ll skip all the boring stuff then,” she hands each of us a helmet and John the keys.

John does not own a motorcycle, nor has he ever driven one, but naturally she believes him. My younger brother is almost a foot taller than me, strong, with the same light eyes, dirty blonde hair, and reckless streak of adventure. However, he possesses a practicality and drive to succeed that far surpasses the impulsiveness of my free spirit. With that, he has this unfaltering confidence in himself against anything the world might throw at him that is grounded purely in his ability to literally destroy anything that may come at him. This confidence emanates from him and people just believe him because he believes himself.

Of course, John won’t let me near the driver’s seat, but I’m more content and at peace than ever sitting behind him. It feels like I just finally let out a breath that I hadn’t even realized I’d been holding for the past two months. Traveling alone, being alert and guarded and aware constantly. These are things I haven’t always been used to doing and with John at the wheel, I can do what I do best and recklessly throw caution to the wind, just enjoying the ride, because the person I trust most on this earth with my life is in control. I exhale and stretch my hands out on either side of me, arching my back with my face up to the sky as we fly around every narrow and winding, dangerous bend along the Amalfi coast, feeling like nothing in this entire world could touch or hurt me.

Cars honk around every bend and avoid head on collisions at every turn while John weaves in and out of the chaos. My hands find his waist out of instinct, squeezing and laughing as we cheat death. One wrong move and we are road kill on the left or tumbling miles down towards the hungry sea on the right, breaking bones on every rock we hit on the way down the cliff. John follows the road as it dances with the coastal mountains, both engaged as one in nature’s version of Russian roulette. Nothing here is built the way it is back home, where we demolish and destroy land to build upon. The roads, the buildings, the vehicles, they all ride the land in this strange and perfect dance, fitting in where they can, springing right up from and with everything else. The towns crawl up the rock cliffs, built right out of them, houses one on top the other in every radiant hue; yellows, salmons, creams, pinks, oranges, blues, greens … each building a part of the next.

I duck as we fly under an overpass of bright, magenta flowers wrapped around the bamboo shafts that bridge over the road. It’s exhilarating and heart wrenchingly beautiful and utterly peaceful all at once and I could ride up and down this coast for the rest of my life on the back of this Vespa, never needing to get off or go anywhere else.

“Bar?” John asks as he cranes his head to the side so I can hear him in the wind. I look to the corner ahead where a flat, white stone building lies with the words “BAR” written on a sign above it. “Yup,” I answer and John pulls the Vespa off to the side of the cliff.

The only ones there, we are escorted downstairs out to a terrace jutting out over the Mediterranean Sea and I have to stop to catch my breath. John laughs, leaving his jaw gaped as his eyes touch each crevice of this unknown world slowly and methodically, memorizing each curve and flow. Below the railing, dozens of terraces jut out from the cliffs in every direction with families and couples lounging privately outside of their hotel rooms. One on top the other from contradictory angles, built right out of the rock.

“Bubbles?” I ask John, glancing over the menu. Nothing else feels appropriate aside from Champagne, so we indulge as we lounge on the couch, somewhere in between land and sea, dangling in the air.

“How much do you think it is a night to stay here?” John asks, grinning, “If it’s not much more than our place, I’ll do it.”

My face catches fire with mischief, “I’ll be right back,” I say.

I strut inside to the front desk with as much confidence as a Parisian bank heiress, not minding my wind blown hair and make-up less face, and inform the clerk that I would like to see the prices per night for their hotel.

“Of course, ma’am,” a Titanic butler, in his best blues, spreads the pricing list out on the gold plated, oak desk in front of me, “which room would you like?”

Creasing my brow in feigned contemplation, I linger a few moments on the list of 630 euro – 2500 euro a night rooms, wave my hand in the air with the false posh snobbery of a Kardashian and tell him I’ll be with him shortly.

“Let’s get out of here,” I say to John as I venture back up to the terrace. We laugh over the audacity of such a place as we down our bubbly, get on our ride and speed off.

Weaving amidst the coastline during daylight is one thing, but the view from the sea as dusk falls is another thing entirely. Lying on our backs out in the water, staring up at the town of Positano, the bright blue sky lends itself towards darkness as each house turns on their lights, reflecting their own unique colors against their neighbors’. And I think I could maybe fall asleep here like this, floating in the Mediterranean Sea, underneath this vibrant stone village, watching it’s every movement and hue change in the varying light.

“Why would anyone live anywhere else?” John asks as he floats on his back next to me, not taking his eyes from the view.

“I have absolutely no idea,” I sigh.

Hitchhiking to France

Well, it was all very uneventful to be honest and not terrifying in the least. The train from Barcelona to Nice is extremely expensive and long and I found a Czech couple who currently resided in Nice but were on a weekend holiday in Barcelona and I asked them for a ride. 

Petr was tall and blue eyed and smiley. He was nice enough, although not very interesting, and we chatted here and there along the way. His girlfriend, Saakar (or something of the sort - surely spelled with dozens of symbols dancing off and about each letter like brail) was not, by any means, friendly; nor was she happy that I was coming along. She did not speak one word to me the entire six hour ride. She did not speak one word to anyone. She never turned around. Never looked at me once. I did manage to get a few quiet giggles out of her (that I thought I could make out from the back of her head below Petr's laughing, but I could be imagining that), throwing around some American digs and banter. But it was brief and over in no time. 

I couldn't help but contemplating this odd relationship amidst the silent hours. They didn't talk, or touch, or laugh, or play. They didn't do anything at all. No singing or story telling on this road trip. There wasn't an ounce of passion or companionship between them as far as I could see. 

Fifteen minutes into the journey, I realize I have to go to the bathroom but I am too afraid to ask, not knowing if this stranger is the furious type when he has to stop for a passenger or the acomodating type. An hour in, Petr stops at the gas station and I go to the bathroom and we share a cup of coffee and his girl friend remains stoic in the passenger seat. Three hours in, I am utterly starving. 

"So, um, do you guys eat?" I ask casually. 

"Yes, we do in fact eat," Petr laughs and stops off at the next exit. 

I'm begining to think that Sakkar is a robot and she doesn't need fuel or emotion to function, but she gets out of the car and eats with us, still without a word. It's all very strange and uncomfortable and I'm becoming increasingly disappointed because I was hoping to get a good story out of the experience and they aren't giving me much to work with. 

We finally get to Nice and Petr agrees to drop me off at my hostel seeing that it is now dark. I remember that he mentioned earlier that they live at the top of the mountain above the city. As we start climbing upwards, wrapping around the dark, steep roadways, I have this momentary (hopefully irrational) fear that they are, indeed, going to take me back to their home, slay me, and eat my remains. But they don't. 

The drop me at the hostel which is rustic and set in a garden half way up the mountain. It is full of obnoxious American and British young girls, a Muslim bent over on the floor saying prayers next to my bed, and three very old, very big women who apparently decided it was now or never to travel. I don't meet anyone here because I don't care to. I'm leaving in the morning and have no energy for hostel banter after the past month of it. I walk down the extremely dark, steep abandoned hill to town for a bank machine because they don't take credit cards, sit in the corner of the bar with a bottle of wine and my lap top open, which I'm not using but hoping will serve to ward off incomers. 

An hour later, a drunk 40-something year old man with a shit hairline walks over and asks if he can sit. I shrug and he talks incessantly while I stare at my computer. He asks me to join him for the hostel's Tango dance lessons before breakfast tomorrow and that's when I look up and say, "absolutely not." He wanders away shortly after, and when the wine is gone so do I. 

Snow White, 6 Dwarfs, & a Joffrey - PT I


Viewer Discretion Advised. Very crude, very loud, and VERY British. Not for the winos or the sensitive of heart. In attempts to mask any offensive behvaior, I found that the story simply could not be written without it. And the story must be written, fams.

It also should be said that for most of the world, this entry will be in a different language. Bonnet language. 

Also, please read with a British accent. 


They were an eclectic group of misfits, a pack of stray dogs. It must have taken me all the twenty-five years I had growing up with brothers, not only biological but all of the guy friends I had constantly been surrounded by, to prepare me for the raunchiness of this group and to indeed end up living in the same room with them. But I loved it. I found their banter entertaining and their crudeness strangely endearing and the chemistry of the group entirely intriguing. If not simply for the fact that they were always laughing and singing; they were the happiest bunch I had ever come across. They were parasites, but harmless, little, loveable parasites if you will. A happy disease. Of course, the British accents didn't exactly hurt either. (They always seem to get away with everything.)

It could have been anyone really that had been sitting there in the hostel garden that night I arrived, but it just happened to be the Bonnet Boys. I put my bags away, showered, and walked down to the common garden, not knowing who or what I was getting myself into. From atop the stairs, I saw the only people out in the garden - a group of boys, a group of loud, racy boys. I said "hi;" they sang "hola" in unison; I pulled up a chair, and that was it. 

Of course, the entire first night I had no idea what they were saying, but I was mesmerized. They had their own language, songs, and dances. They would turn just about anything into a song, inserting the phrase into a three line, Greek Life sounding tune, complete with "la, la, la, la, la's." It wasn't long, however, before I picked the language up and eventually got swept away along in it. By the last night, I wouldn't remember how to speak without a British accent or stop using all of their funny words to describe everything. My lingo would never be the same. 

Before I officially begin, let me pause here to just introduce you to these wild cards. 

Mike ~ a bonafide hipster with a brown complexion, high socks, black rim glasses, his top button done always and hair on point. He was the loudest and closest to the leader of the group, if you were looking from the outside in. In constant competition (especially with Nigel) for the best hair, the best shorts, shoes, socks, or whatever he could find to win on, he kept a constant tally of who was in the lead. A photographer and a singer, he was an artistic type, but not your everyday creator. He had the biggest smile you'd ever seen. When he was drinking and happy (which was most always), his shoulders would start to dance of their own accord like he had little tambourines on each one, and his wrists would join in with the snare drum. Sitting alone, or chirpsing a bird, his dancing joints had a mind and will of their own and could not be stopped. 

Tudor (aka Tudes) ~ had the same smooth, brown complexion as Mike, but a shit hairline and a science that he had mastered - the Professor of Oodisms. Self proclaimed as "The Dumb" of the group, he firmly believed that you shouldn't swim after eating because a heavy stomach meant sinking and drowning was inevitable; that hanging a sheet over his bed would keep bugs out, and that condoms shouldn't be warn because, well, he didn't like them and that was enough (#Oodisms). When he was happy (which was again, always), he'd break out in his crab dance no matter who was around and it never failed to throttle me into fits of laughter. He had a habit of pressing his pointer finger and thumb together with his other three fingers raised (as if to say "a-ok") when he spoke, emphasizing each word (especially each "t") as if he were writing calligraphy in the sky. Professor Oode. Puffing his e-ciggarette at all times in attempts to quit smoking and panicking when it was not to be found. Writing smiley faces in the sky and sniping birds at closing time after hours of work from another guy. 

Nigel ~ the looker of the group, the "stud" and fitness instructor. Short but built, with piff hair that always had to be done, with every strand perfectly assembled into place. He was the complimentary addy feet dancer to Mike's snare drum wrists and tambourine shoulders and when they both came out together (every night around midnight), you couldn't keep a smile off your face even if the whole world was ending. Like Mike, he had to have the piffest shirt and outfit and had a collection of trainers that put every girl's to shame. He brought 6 pairs for 4 days (including a maroon, leopard print pair), and his suitcase was bigger than my 6-month back pack. He had the whitest teeth you'd ever seen due to a crest white strip addiction with a side dose of vanity and he was the king of selfies. Always with the oblique stances and the impromptu, "this is my jammmm," white girl dance, with one hand waving back and forth over his head and his hip popped. 

Rob ~ Nigel's twin brother was anything but, and it took me two days to realize they weren't pulling one over on me when they had said they were twins. The quietest and most reserved of the group, he didn't quite fit in with the loud and boisterous banter, but he didn't seem to mind too much. He was, after all, Nigel's twin even if fraternal, so he was part of the Bonnet Boy family. Constantly the brunt of jokes like everyone else, except Rob rarely stood up for himself, or at least not in the loud way the others did. He was gentle and kind and stood in the background for the most part and although he had a good heart, he was practical to the core and always there to bring anyone back down from the clouds, whether they liked it or not. 

Cork ~ the pale ginger of the gang. (Come on, every groups got to have one.) He had recently regained his confidence thanks to the guys and with no help from the ladies. Going on a twenty-seven month dry spell, he was the "re-virginized" of the group and the mission of the week was to get Cork laid. Either that, or he was gay - those were the options on the table. He had a rainbow colored knit sock that he would wear to warm his junk and proudly strut around the room striking poses that would give off the best angles of his freckly physique. One of his best assets was his round bum and on que, he was ready to pop up and show it off in a particular array of stances for however long he was asked to do so. 

Nippy ~ And then there was Nippy, and what on earth can I tell you about him to make him come alive on the page. He was the cutest, yet most repulsive person anyone has ever met. A big, loveable teddy bear with an honest, and yet undeniably hilarious, disposition that didn't make any sense. Soft shoulder kisses from Nippy throughout the night were never far; he would be standing next to any one of us and just bend down and kiss you on the shoulder without saying a word. But above all .... was Nippy on the beach. He would flop around in the waves, beached, head over feet, bum crack out in just his boxers and pop his adorable head up for air like a baby sea otter and then he'd fart the next minute and talk about motting a girl that just walked by. Nippy loved to mott. 

Right, so where was I? That first night ...

After a few jokes, a few beers, some tantalizing tales about Miami, and somewhere after twenty minutes of judging every article of clothing in the Mike vs. Nigel competition, others from the hostel started to flow out into the beer garden. Everyone, and I mean everyone remained on the other side of the garden away from these scumbags. Even their beckoning invitations to join and the songs could not tempt a soul to dare set foot in whatever it was that was happening over on our side. I noted briefly to maybe take a look later into my own psyche and why everything about this side of the garden drew me towards it and no one else. But it didn't bother me one bit; this was clearly the side I belonged on (no matter the possibly disturbing and subconscious reasons.)

After dubbing Mike and Nigel the "Dream Team," a title they took to immediately and put on like crowns, I accidentally brushed my cigarette against Nigel's knee, burning him (minimally I may add). 

"Allow me, Fam!!" He said as he swatted my hand away. 

He then urged me to singe the rest of my cigarette into Mike's knee while he wasn't looking, for obvious Dream TEam fairness, as well as inflicting shameless pain on his friend for the sheer hilarity of it. The problem with me is (and this is where we could delve even deeper into my issues) that as soon as he said it and I looked over to Mike sitting on my left, loudly telling an elaborate story to the group with a smile that took up half his face, I desperately wanted to do exactly what Nigel had dared me to do. And then without thinking, as if I didn't have a choice, I put the cigarette out right on the top of his knee. Well, this sent Mike into shrieks and the whole group into an uproar of laughter and praise. 

The rest of the night primarily consisted of trying to get Cork laid and sending him off after pep talks to go sit down with different groups of girls. Usually one of us would go in with him to toss him bones and pass assists, and tonight a very drunk, very staggering Nippy decided that he should be the one. Sloshing beer on their dresses, tripping over limbs and leaning down over the sitting girls with his face entirely too close to theirs and one eye closed, Nippy really did have Cork's best intentions at heart. However, Cork did not get laid that night. 

A few hours from when I had first sat down, mid conversation about something I can no longer recall, Mike looks at me quizzically, squints his eyes and then cocks his head back a bit as if he is studying me. 

"Holiday Guy?" He asks, first at me, then looking to Nigel and then to the rest of the group. 

Shocked, but pleasantly intrigued, they looked at each other and then at me with wide eyes and ssmiles, responding, "Holiday Guy!!"

Holiday Guy was a term the gang dubbed to a particular person they had met on each holiday they had been on together. They never knew how or when he would turn up, but one always did, and they bonded with each other instantly and forever. They were, of course, expecting their Lisbon Holiday Guy to present himself eventually, but not immediately on their day of arrival and certainly not a Holiday Guy with tits. No, that was a game changer. Thus began the five day, Lisboa adventures of the British strays and Holiday Guy. 

(COMING SOON: Part II - V ..... currently still under construction) 

Getting Lost in Paris

It's my third day in Paris and the first one I've had alone. After spending two days with a lovely, French college friend as my guide, I was finally on my own. It was terrifying and wonderous all at once. It took me a bit to work up the courage to leave his apartment this morning. I kept making up reasons not to, which I found odd. This is, in fact, exactly what I had wanted and why I had come. But the reality of being in a foreign city alone with no knowledge of the language rang alarmingly daunting. Eventually, I pushed myself out the door.

The French have a genius system here for transportation. Eight euros gets you an unlimited week access to bike rentals (which are on every street corner) and does just about the same for a car rental. You have a half an hour with each before you must return it, but can just take out another one 5 minutes later. Why didn't we think of this? I had used the bikes for the past two days, following my friend around the city. Today, after renting a bike, getting entirely lost, and pissing off too many Parisians along the way, I decided to walk. With the Eiffel Tower as my goal and no idea how to get there, I followed the river. 

There was something magical about Paris. I know we have all heard that before, but there really was. Something in the air. Turning down random street corners for no reason at all other than the look and feel of that street. Stopping under a remote bridge just because that particular spotcalled your name. With no wifi, no contacts, and no one to answer to. It was breath-taking.

Give me a Summer in Paris and I'd need a thousand more. Give me a year, and I'd give you the best Romance novel you'd ever read. Romance sang through the streets and beckoned around every corner, each remote cafe terrace, and underpass. Echoes of countless past lovers hid under every bridge and thousands of lives and stories untold whispered by the riverside. I was lovestruck. Overwhelmed and in awe. 

The excitement of the busy Paris street was electrifying as you ventured through them alone, like going in blind without any idea of what was being said around you. Music filled the air on every bridge and the rumble of cars and horns felt strangely comforting. But a small turn down by the water, just below the chaos, was as silent and still as an old abandoned city. Just bird songs and the river lapping against the stone wall where I hid, were the only accompaniment I had. I could stay here for hours. 

The occasional tour boat came under the bridge by me. Hundreds of tourists waved as they passed me and took pictures as I sat in the remote cove under the bridge. Water crept up the sides of the stone, splashing my feet as they passed. And I wondered what they would talk about years from now, reminiscing over photo albums and their trip to Paris; about the mysterious Parisan girl with the long black dress and colorful scarf secluded below the sights and street chaos, writing by the water. Would they make up stories about who I was and why I was there? Would time fabricate me into a fanciful, romantic, Parisian character in their memories? And would I somehow live on in this moment, in this place, because of it? This exact version of me. A snapshot forever standing still, caught in time. 

I followed the narrow Parisian streets, keeping the tip of the Eiffel Tower as my point of reference whenever it came into view. No map. Just the Tower as my guide. Determined to get there before sunset and see it light up the night sky. I was never one to be hugely into tourist attractions, but this was something I had always dreamed of experiencing. I felt giddy as I neared it, almost gasping internally, as it would appear even closer and bigger around every bend.

I didn't know what I had expected but it wasn't this. Grandiose and majestic, it stood beautifully above me. But directly below it was almost amuseument park like. So I sat on the grass a bit away from the crowds next to a rose bush. Affectionate Parisian couples were splashed in color along the grass like a painting. Laying in each other's laps and stroking one another's hair; reading or laughing, picknicking and sipping wine. I couldn't understand anyone and I didn't need to. 

Dusk began to settle gently and it occurred to me that walking home after dark may not be as easy or magical as the day had been. But I had been assurred that it was safe, so I pushed that from my mind for later. 

The lush green lawn was speckled with flowers of all vibrant colors. Yellow and white, purple blossoms, orange and red dotted all over the grass. I could almost picture the artist who would have painted this canvas, dipping his brushes into the radiant hues on his palate and dotting them wherever he felt necessary. The trees were trimmed in funny-looking shapes as if they were puzzle piece states to a U.S. map. Sharp edges and absurdly straight edged tops, as if once they grew to a certain height, they hit a glass wall that stunted their tops at an even playing field so not to distract from the view of the Tower. 

You could tell the tourists from the locals. While the Parisians lounged on one another soaking up the last light of the day, the tourists took pictures everywhere, posing ridiculously against rose bushes or taking selfies in front of the Tower. It occurred to me that I probably didn't stand out as a tourist at all. Just a girl writing by herself under a tree. I liked that evassiveness. It was an unfamiliar and welcome feeling.


Across the street, I attempted to sit at an outside cafe with a glass of wine to wait for the tower to light up, hoping that it would. I had heard that the French were considering greener energy saving alternatives, so they did not light it up all the time. It was a bit anxiety provoking each time I approached someone to ask them if they spoke english, "Tu Pal Engle?" To which, more than a normal share, responded "maybe." Well, that didn't really help me at all now, did it? You either spoke English or you didn't. So, I would stutter uncomfortably, shifting feet trying to maneuver some form of conversation from there. Responding to all French inquiries with the only other two words I knew, "Merci" (thank you), and "wi" (yes), was bound to have negative reprocussions eventually. But as of today, it was all I had to work with. 

I had not a clue where I would go from here after, when and if, the tower did light up; or any idea how I would get back. But right now it didn't matter. Right now, all that existed was this street corner, the Tower rising above the buildings in front of me, this glass of red wine, the clanging of dishes inside, and the background French chatter, the cars and busses rumbling across the street, and this pen and paper against a white and red checkered table cloth. 

After fumbling around languages with the waiter like a teenage boy at a middle school dance, I finally got the Cafe Le Dome password. And just as I began to update this blog, the Tower lit. Beautiful, glowing against the darkening sky. I was in love. 


Hesitantly, I ventured back over to the Eiffel Tower in the dark. Laying there on the lawn below, no amount of time could be enough to take in all of this beauty. Of all the monuments in all the world this one could never be surpassed. No picture I took could do it justice, so I stopped taking them. I lay alone under a tree on my back looking up at the romance that lit the sky before me. Paris may be the city of love, but I'm not sure there is anything like being here alone. I couldn't help but wonder about the people that saw this every night. Did it lose something? Did they pass by it without having to stop and catch their breath? It's majesty knocked you still and held you captivated. You literally had to pull yourself free of it's spell to leave.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any more bueatiful, the whole thing began to sparkle. Flickering pixie dust against the magical Parisian night sky. No wonder this city was for lovers. Never have I come across a more romantic setting in all my life. 


Riding a bike back alone in the dark proved to be much less scary than I had imagined. In fact, it was liberating riding by the river's edge, the breeze blowing through my hair. The air smelt of passion and fresh bread, and sounded like a quiet French pur. Once past the bridge, I left my bike and walked through a surprisingly alive city street. Night life in Paris didn't stop for a Monday. I sat again out on a small terrace and watched the city dance around me. I ordered a glass of wine and something from the menu where the only words I understood were "chicken wings." What came out was not chicken wings in the least. More of a toast tapenade with some sort of spread. Ah well, that is the beauty of ordering food in a country you cannot understand. I was loving this. No one knew me and no one cared. The world was my play ground. 




Getting lost in Paris at night was an entirely different thing and in no way magical. I found myself lost in a much darker part of town trying to make my way back. Here, away from the music and lights, it felt as everyone were asleep and I should be too. I didn't want to ride a bike at night in this part of town but my phone battery was now on 11%. I turned on my data roaming and my GPS said that I was a 40 minute walk from my friend's place.

Trying not to panic, I found the nearest metro station. It felt abandonned and the promise of the air above was lost down here, leaving a dank smell of piss and trash. I stared at the pink metro line map trying to remember my friend's stop. I couldn't. All I could remember was that his line, number 9, was green and this was not it. I bought a pass anyway, walked down to the metro and then right back up. No sign of a person or sound of a train on it's way, I wondered if the metro closed at this time. There were two metro women inside the information booth when I came back up. They spoke very little english and all that they could tell me was that this was the right line. However, after two stops on the metro, I began to panic that it was taking me even further than I had been before, so I jumped off. 


With my phone battery now at 9%, bikes were my only option. When I found a bike station, a harmless-looking, young man began to speak to me in French. I apologized, telling him that I did not speak French. "Oh, thank God," he said, "neither do I and I am so lost." The perfect English comforted me and I apologized that I could not help him for I. too, was lost and heading in the opposite direction. We parted ways as the phone battery decreased. A few wrong turns corrected and I finally thought I might recognize my surroundings. My phone dropped to 2% and then it went black. Heart thumping and praying that I was on the right track, I peddled on through the dark streets. Amazingly enough, I was able to make it back to the square to find Bastille Street and now I knew how to get home. 

My friend's street was much darker now and almost abandonned. I dropped my bike at the closest station and made my way to his building's door. Panic flooded through me as I realized I did not remember his building's entrance code. I had saved it in my phone for just this reason and now my phone was dead. I attempted an array of combinations with the numbers I remembered. All failed. 

Frantically, I searched left and right on the dark street for any sort of wifi refuge. And then I saw them ... the golden arches. The American safe haven of McDonalds at the streets end. I made my way towards the only glistening light left on the street. Once inside, I attempted to bargain with the casheir for the wifi password. Maybe I could contact my friend through my lap top. In broken English and French (mostly French), it appeared that he was telling me I must buy food to use the wifi. So, I bought a Cajun Chicken Sandwhich (which was no good at all, I must add) and then asked him if I could have the wifi now. "No wifi after midnight," he waved his hand and dismissed me, looking towards the next customer. My mouth fell open. Shit. I brought my tray of food to a corner table and sat there picking at it, fighting back tears and weighing all of my options. 

Exhausted by the idea of asking one more person "Tu pal engle?", I worked up the courage, as a last ditch attempt, to ask the man who had just sat down at a table by me. "I do," he said and relief rushed through me. He had an iPhone 5 charger and handed it to me. I quickly charged my phone with my lap top and retrieved the apartment code. Writing it down on my hand, I thanked him and made my way home. Feet black and aching, I resolved that lesson number 1 would be: Never leave the chargers at home!