There is never a bad time to go to Paris, not even right after what one might think is a miscarriage. And since at the moment we can’t go anywhere aside from the grocery store down the street and the park around the corner, might as well go back to Paris via some old photographs.
Last March, Tom and I went to Paris for four days before heading down to a friend’s wedding in Bilbao, via San Sebastian and Biarritz. We had planned the trip from our parents’ homes in the States over our last two months of 2018, meticulously researching the cutest hotels and most direct flights that points could buy.
We didn’t expect to get pregnant so quickly after arriving in Sydney, but even less so did we expect to lose the baby. I had been pregnant for exactly six weeks when, on the day we were due to fly out of Sydney for Paris, I miscarried. If you know me – or read this blog – you know that it was a threatened miscarriage and that the baby remained with us all along.
He sat in utero, hanging on by a mere dribble of blood, as his father and I decided to continue packing our bags. In hindsight, yes, we should have gone to see a doctor – but given the circumstances at the time – cloudy day, miscarriage, no furniture or even a rug in our concrete apartment – our life in Sydney was only slightly more established than the baby had been. Paris seemed like a no-brainer.
We even had friends in Paris. Sam and Julia were coming from Hamburg to meet us and two old coworkers – Florent and Michelle – were there as well. All waiting for us to enjoy the gastronomical and cultural buffet that Paris is.
So we went.
Every trip to Paris is special in its own way. There is the first eye-opening trip, which I took with my parents at the age of twenty, and which necessitates all the trips that follow. A college dropout without much direction, I had tagged along when my parents were invited by family friends to see the city. I stood marveling at every boulevard and park, gazed at the front of every old building, drooled in front of each cafe and patisserie, and ogled every slender, fashionable Frenchwoman that walked by. I wondered what I had been doing with my life before I saw this beautiful city.
Over the next decade, opportunities to return came every two or three years, with cousins, girlfriends, and of course, with Tom. And I still do much of the same marveling, drooling and ogling as I did on that first trip, though with subtler sidelong glances than with direct stares. With each trip I take things a little slower, with a focus on enjoying the present as one almost can’t help but do in Paris.
I thought, when we landed in Charles de Gaulle last March, that perhaps enjoying the present would be a bit harder given our circumstances. Six weeks isn’t a long time to be pregnant, especially since I had only known for two weeks, but two weeks is just enough time for a person – a pregnant woman, specifically – to start outlining if not coloring in the nascent future. What would our lives look like in another eight months? Would it be a boy or girl? Would he look like me or Tom? Both or neither? Would he like Vegemite? Would his first words be in English or Chinese?
In Paris we put those thoughts on hold as much as possible.
We checked in, took a nap. A few hours later we met Sam and Julia in the very cosy bar in the lobby of our hotel and shared our news with them. And then we walked to dinner, had some wine, and talked about both the past and the future while thoroughly enjoying the present.
We were two young couples without kids who wanted kids who were optimistic enough to hope that one day, the kids would come. So our optimism let us enjoy the present and put smiles on our faces when we talked about the day we’d be on another trip very much like this one, but with kids in tow.
The next day, we walked in the rain and made the men wait at a nearby café and then on small beige chairs while Julia and I had our faces massaged. We ate delicious udon, looked at some art, walked across some bridges, and ate medium rare steaks in a cellar. The day after that, we met up with my old coworkers, Florent and Michelle, at the Paris Catacombs to look at some old bones and ended the evening at Florent’s apartment with a bona-fide French house gathering with plenty of wine and cheese and four baguettes and at least one beret.
By the time we said goodbye, the nausea and fatigue that accompanies early pregnancy started up and my mood shifted downward. I figured it was lingering hormones – but I told myself I could sleep on the bus, I could sleep on the train, I could sleep in the rental car through Spain. I had eaten and drunk my fill in Paris of Paris, which as always, was everything I had needed it to be. Whatever came next, we’d be okay, and we would try again.
Except of course, we didn’t need to.
So this last trip to Paris, so very far from the last trip, will always be particularly special. Because the whole time I thought we were two, we were really three.