I had just come from meeting one of my greatest (or so I had thought) inspirations. I shouldn’t disclose too much information about who he is since I don’t want to slander him, but he was having a book signing yesterday and I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw an advertisement for it just that morning. I had really identified with him from our shared love of food, travel, and above all, Paris. Throughout the afternoon, all I could think about was the moment when I would first meet him, what those first words would be, what personal message he would write in my book. But of course, reality hardly ever matches our expectations. Let’s just say he wasn’t exactly interested in making conversation, and the personal message that I thought he would write after a passionate discussion about how living in Paris is a dream come true and the real joys in life come from eating an aged piece of cheese on a freshly baked baguette or biting into a delicate pastry on the banks of the Seine ended up just being a brief “To Juliet.”
I left the book signing feeling disillusioned…why wasn’t he interested in who one of his biggest fans is? Why wasn’t he more enthusiastic when I said I had moved to Paris just like him? Why didn’t he care when I told him how much he had inspired me? Should I have planned more carefully the right words to say? My head was full of these thoughts, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that something enchanting had just shattered into a million tiny pieces. So I started walking. I walked through the Tuileries as the sun was just setting in the sky, and I let my feet take me where they wanted to go. The illuminated Eiffel Tower rose in the distance, with its peak invisible in the foggy night sky, and soon I realized I was making my way towards it…something I have metaphorically always been doing. The fresh air cleared my mind and only seemed to make the night more beautiful. The more disillusioned and disappointed I became with the author who had just brushed me off, the less I became with Paris. I was surrounded by centuries-old architecture and the words of the most beautiful language I’ve ever heard floated through the air, brushing my cheek as they passed. People say they don’t believe in magic, but to me this city is magic.
I started thinking of how at that moment I was the most physically alone I’d ever really been, and yet I had never felt so content. Have you ever been in a room full of people, even if those people are friends or family, but felt truly alone? We’ve all been there at some point in our lives; we all know what’s it feels like to be with a group of people and feel completely out of place. It’s the times when we are actually alone, when there is no one to talk to but ourselves, that are the times when we must learn to be content on our own. How can you ever expect to be happy with others if you aren’t first comfortable with just yourself?