Monday, May 19, 2008

What 10 Days in Paris Taught Mrs. X

Bon soir, my dears. As you can tell, I have returned from Paris and I am as mellow as mellow can be. Mr. X and I had a fabulous vacation, full of gorgeous weather, wonderful food, fabulous wine and of course, many adventures. Sure the exchange rate was atrocious and the prices reminded me of New York and London (I swear it was roughly $6.50 for a Coke in a restaurant. Really), but we used these as an excuse to walk everywhere, check out free museums, and linger over dinner.

And, for the first time in longer than I can remember or even quantify, I didn't care about infertility, miscarriages, pregnancy or any of it. I. Was. Free. And it felt damn good.

I can chalk up part of it to the vacation mentality, the knowing that when you wake up in the morning, the most difficult decision of the day is which section of Paris to explore (terrible choice, I know). But, I also think that Paris itself gave me some perspective. Allow me to explain.

On our first full day in Paris, we headed over the to Musee de Cluny which is the museum of the Middle Ages housed in a former abbey built around 1490 - this was before Columbus even reached the Americas, before our little nation was even a blip on the radar screen. Part of the museum's structure is also the former Roman baths built in the 1st - 3rd century. I was literally standing next to stones that were cut over a thousand years ago by hands that are now nothing more than dust. I still think this is so cool.

The people who built these things - the Romans, the Normans, the Gauls, the Visigoths - never probably thought that these buildings would last past their lifetimes and certainly not over a 1000 or 500 years later. They were preoccupied, as we are today, with their lives and making it. In the end, though, the one lasting thing they did that is still tangible is to build these churches, forums, baths, etc. Their legacy, their lasting contribution in the world is measured in stone.

It struck me, then, and again and again during our time in Paris, that my life is so insignificant in the greater scheme of time and the world. It doesn't really matter if I am able to procreate or not - my life won't be judged by that. In fact, in 100 years, it probably won't be judged by anything because no one may have even heard of me. And, probably even more surprising, I am perfectly fine with that.

I also got the distinct impression from the Parisians, both with and without children, were supremely engrossed in one activity and that activity only: enjoying life. Lingering over coffee, people watching at sidewalk cafes, reading in the park. Everywhere I turned were people who weren't constantly checking their Crackberries or hurrying everywhere. It was so refreshing and so different from the life we lead here.

What surprised me even more, though, was how disgruntled the women with children looked. There was one evening as we were heading back to our apartment where we were standing at an intersection waiting for the light to change before we could cross the street. Next to me was a women with a toddler in a stroller. The kid was wailing her head off and looked to have been crying for some time - her face was red and her hair was all toussled. Her mother, though, was just staring into space and I couldn't help but think that what she was thinking probably went along the lines of, "What the hell did I get myself into with this kid?"

Of course, she could have just as well have been mentally composing a shopping list, I'll never know. But the sadness on her face coupled with the fact that this kid was screaming her head off and the lady wasn't even moving led me to think I had pretty much hit the nail on the head.

If I had to sum up what all of this rambling means, I'd say that this trip reinforced what I've been trying to practice for sometime now which is to recognize that having children isn't everything and shouldn't be the sole focus of my life. When you are in the trenches, it's hard to see farther than the next battle in front of you, but, let me tell you, life outside of the battle is pretty sweet too.
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Part of our trip to Paris included a complete unplugging from the Internet and TV and I loved it. Yes, you heard that right. I didn't have a TV for 10 days and it was fabulous.

I'm still trying to practice a modified form of this unplugging, so I may not be posting as often for a while. Of course, I could say this and start posting everyday. Anywho, I'm still enjoying the honeymoon from not thinking about infertility as a result of our trip, so I'm not quite ready to delve into my four-letter word project - not to mention the fact that I still haven't finished those damn Atlantic magazines to find the answer to the word question.

Instead, I'll probably entertain with stories of Paris. I doubt I'll hear much grumbling from the masses.

12 comments:

Lori said...

Welcome home, Mrs X.

I can say that my daughter was conceived while Hubby and I were in Paris.

Of course, we didn't have anything to do with said conception, being on the wrong side of the pond and infertile and all, but it sounds so continental.

Sounds like you refocused on what is really important. I think that's just awesome.

loribeth said...

No grumbling here. ; ) Re: the disgruntled French woman, all I kept thinking about while reading your post was that they have some of the best daycare & family leave policies on the planet, & she's still not happy?? Oh well, it's all in your perspective, & a wailing child is a wailing child, lol. Glad to have you back!

Ms Heathen said...

Welcome home, Mrs X!

I often think that I spend far too much time regretting what I don't have, and have decided to make more of an effort to hang on to those precious moments when the dark cloud of infertility lifts and I'm able simply to enjoy life for what it is. I'm so glad that you were able to leave it all behind you, and enjoy your trip to Paris.

Denise said...

Good to hear from you, Mrs. X and so nice to hear you had such a great trip. Can't wait to hear more great stories!

Emily said...

Welcome home, Mrs. X! Glad you're home safely and that your vacation was wonderful. Looking forward to some more stories and pics!

Pepper said...

Unplugging does wonders for one's frame of mind, doesn't it? I'm addicted to email and reading blogs (and TV - don't tell), and I'm always feeling as if there isn't enough time in the day. But it's amazing how much time seems to expand when you unplug. It's a beautiful thing.

Glad you enjoyed your vacation! Welcome home.

Sunshine & Kitten Farts said...

I'm so happy you had a good trip, and even happier that you found peace on it. I truly believe everything works in mysterious way, so I can't believe you'll never have kids. But I'm glad you're comfortable taking a break in the fight. For that, Paris ROCKS!

Deathstar said...

Welcome back. I will be in Paris for a scant 2 days on a visit to Holland this August. So I would appreciate any must see or eat advice!

Shinejil said...

Welcome back! Please, turn off the silly television but keep blogging! That's creative, while tv is mentally passive. Of course, I'm selfish in this request. :)

So very, very glad you had a lovely trip. Nothing like some ancient places to remind us that what we think matters at the moment won't matter at all in the long run. And that we are easily confused by what we want versus what will truly make us happy...

Elizabeth said...

Paris is one of my favorite places, and I love the Musee de Cluny. The unicorn tapestries...wow! Were you able to go to the Musee d'Orsay? We were only able to rush through it in about 30 minutes before it closed when we were last there.

Welcome back, and I'm so glad you had a great time.

beautycourage said...

What a nice post- thank you for sharing your insights. Your thoughts on the building, stones and museums really resonated with me.

admin said...

I haven't had a chance to post, but I am positively jealous of your beautiful Parisian adventure and your sunny disposition. There is something about seeing the world in a different way that can just shift you in such a monumental way. I am so glad you took this trip.

Now the challange is finding ways to remind yourself of that experience. Bread, cheese, wine + nutella always works for me:)