I watched London pass by through the taxi window, unsure whether to laugh or cry over the events of the past five days. Having the cell phone stolen. Stubbornly wandering around London looking for a non-existant restaurant. The crummy exchange rate. The uncomfortable silences. The stress and the stress-induced insomnia, headaches and stomachaches. The inability to eat anything substantial for two days. Dragging luggage across Paris metro stations through turnstiles too small to actually accommodate them while wandering up and down steps with no escalators or lifts as options. The rip-off charges for making international phone calls from hotel phones. The morning after headache from delicious-yet-too-quickly consumed wine the night before. Her own stubbornness, no less than mine certainly.
The driver made his announcement, briefly interrupting my thoughts. “Five minutes to the station, sir.”
The whole trip, from my point of view, seems best summed up by a scene outside Paddington Station as we were taking a taxi to the Hilton Kensington last night. As we were walking toward the taxi, I said I would get out the address of the hotel. Not to be outdone, she also had to dig through her bag to find her paperwork to get out the address, even though by the time she’d begun I’d already found it. I looked at her brother, who just shrugged. After we’d climbed in to the cab, we both made quick comments to each other about it. And I know she said back, “I’m not the only one.”
I do hope she realizes I was teasing her.
I know I can be stubborn to a fault, which explains part of the frustration of the trip for me. Her stubbornness, which when combined with mine, probably wore on the both of us at times. What I found most frustrating was her refusal of any offers of help. If she was trying to prove something, she really doesn’t need to. Her independence, resolve and spirit are impressive enough. Sometimes showing some flexibility or a willingness to yield are important as well.
I could continue to focus on the items that made this whole event something of a debacle, but it wasn’t all bad.
I love Paris. The streets are clean, the people speak a funny language I understand a few phrases of, the cultural value of the city is phenomenal, and the food and wine are delicious. I was able to drink more on this trip than on nearly every other trip I’ve been on, which I wholly appreciated. I caught up on reading, saw an Andrew Lloyd Weber show that isn’t available on Broadway yet (and may never be), and had a few nice dinners. I was able to experience British Airways, with service in coach that was a treat relative to the comparable domestic US experience. I took some great photos, I hope, and had a great time Tuesday with her and her brother, for the most part. If the rest of the trip had gone more like that day, perhaps this would have been a different experience altogether.