Before I left for a month away in Paris, I of course played out various scenarios in my mind. I tend to do this with big future events. Trips, parties, events, whatever. I tend to day dream and also overanalyze what can happen, and what may go wrong. I’m not sure if it’s an overthinking issue, or a control issue, or maybe both. Whatever it is, I do it and I do it a lot. I try to now live by the motto “only live it once” thanks to a friend telling me those words the week Pork’s health took a turn.
Coming to a big city all by yourself, that’s also totally foreign, is going to be a challenge no matter what. There’s a language barrier, culture shock, and just everything being kind of different from what you’re used to. Technology is even different, how things work, and then having it all in a new language is a whole new level of discomfort to put yourself in. Surely I thought I’d break down within the first few days about something. Between lack of sleep, being away, and just being overwhelmed with what was ahead, I just accepted it would inevitably happen. I thought I’d break at some point over something small. l envisioned myself not being able to figure out the washing machine or dishwasher and just find myself crying for what was really a no-big-deal situation. That’s usually how that would go for me.
All of these hiccups happened, and more.
All of these frustrations happened. Within the first few days actually. I got on the wrong train and my app wasn’t working for it and couldn’t find ANYONE to help for over 30 minutes. I couldn’t figure out the train station to Versailles and ended up taking a different route than planned. My Airbnb has had a few small issues, and the garbage man likes to wake me up at 6 am more times than I think he should be allowed to. On top of all that, I also dropped my not even one-year-old iPhone and shattered the ENTIRE back of it. Nope. Nothing made me cry. I was actually excited to go do real people problem bull shit in a new city. That was the WHOLE point of coming here and doing this. I wanted to do laundry, run errands, and just sit and work in a coffee shop. I went gleefully to Apple with my shattered phone. Couldn’t wait to take the train to go and then stop by a new store after I wanted to check out. Who’s excited about that? I was. I’ve been dying to live in a walking city and experience this. I couldn’t be happier running mundane errands right now.
There were zero tears. Even after they told me there was nothing they can do about my nearly new phone. Which I think is huge for me. I’ve definitely been overwhelmed, sleep-deprived, and on work trips before where I have just sobbed. Hit a wall, I’m done, it’s time for tears. It happens. This hasn’t happened. At all.
I’m on day 11 and I feel like I’m in my groove. I know my metro stops. I know my streets to turn down and the landmarks to look out for to know where I’m headed. I’ve even become friendly with the rotisserie chicken guy at the marché down the street. In all honesty, I feel like this is easy as hell.
But I’ve cried. Many times. But not because of any of the above.
I’ve cried because Pork now feels so far away. When I was driving to my parent’s house to drop my car off and have them take me to the airport, there was no Pork to drop off with them. I hit their exit and just sobbed. There are no Pork updates I’m getting throughout the day anymore. And I secretly sort of dread calling my parents when I’m traveling now because it’s so hard to not think how I would always ask “what’s Pork doing”. It’s all we’d talk about when I was away. I lived for those updates.
I’m only doing this trip because she’s no longer here. I felt too guilty doing it while she was still around. Both because of her old age and the burden to leave her with my parents for so long. I always had a fear she’d pass away while I was gone too. She actually cut it pretty close. I got back from my Paris trip in the spring and within a week, she was gone. I like to think, and hope, she waited for me.
She feels so far away.
Being far away from home for some reason has made her feel so far away from me. I think being at home and seeing her favorite spots, and yes her bowls that are still sitting on my counter that I just don’t know what to do with, are little reminders of her all the time. She almost feels a little present still. Grief is a wild ride and I wasn’t expecting to cry over this at all. It was the last thing I thought I’d be emotional about. It was not on the list of possible scenarios I ran through my head prior to my leaving.
I’ve already cried so much over her passing. It’s been 5 whole months and I’ve stopped crying every day about her. Time really does help and I never thought it would ever get easier. But it had. Everyone was right about that, even though I reluctantly would nod my head when they all said it to console me. However, being in Paris has just made it feel like it’s washing back over me at times. Not all day long. I’m no longer in a fog of grief and feeling lost in life. But it hits me. And when it does, it hits really hard. And that has totally surprised me.
Photo by Stefanie Villers