France Journal: June 4, 1996
I woke up and said “yes.” That is what happened. The man asked if I wanted breakfast. We saw below — far below — what looked like land. The lady who was seated beside me and who took 15 pills at each meal told me about some things and the anouncement to turn off personal electronic devices came on. Upon landing we were bused over & got our luggage. Going through customs I thought I would be checked. Luckily I wasn’t. Going on we were met by a 20 something plaid pants guy. It was Arnaud, our courier. We went to an airport café and waited two and a half hours for the other groups. During this time I got to know Amanda and Jessica, two out of the Dobbs group. Jessica was really very nice. When the other groups arrived we got on a bus. We rode an hour & a half to Chartes. There we saw the cathedral and many little shops. The cathedral was magnificent; it had many stained glass windows displaying the many stories of Jesus in vivid colors. [It] was glorious. The hotel we stayed in was the Hôtel Campanile. It was a very compact hotel/restaurant. The dinner was simple and not that great. I have now grown quite fond of Orangina — the only good soda in France (I think). Sleep sounds good — the shower is interesting. It is a sit down type — no curtain — it was very difficult to keep the water inside to use. Very interesting experience.
» 28 August 2007
They failed to tell us — or take into account — how much time we were losing during our flight. We arrived after a full day of travel to a rather booked afternoon of activity. This day seemed distant even the next day. I was not refreshed enough to fully take in what was going on.
I had actually seen Arnaud a couple times before we figured out that he was our courier. He was wearing red plaid pants, which I found strange. However, I was taken with how cute he was. He was slender and tan. His hair was very short and he had a great confidence that made him very attractive. I was rather excited to discover that we would be spending the first week with him.
The lady on the plane (with the large number of giant green and brown pills) had a movie ending to her story. She was met by her male friend (husband, boyfriend, whatever) as she exited the plane. They embraced and kissed. It had clearly not been that long since they had seen each other, but they were still very glad to be back together. I remember thinking how nice it was that she had someone.
If you find yourself in a Parisian airport for 2+ hours, have a book with you or just take a nap. There is very little to do. Amanda, Jessica, & I walked along the corridors to a newsstand and back quite a few times, while the others sat at the indoor café (meant to look like an outdoor café).
I find my sudden interest in Orangina interesting. I ended up being wrong, but I really only found one other soda that I liked, Oasis.
» 27 March 2016
Memory is an odd thing. I often find myself thinking about the lady I sat next to on the flight from New York to France. I suppose it I had been older and more self-confident, I might have gotten to know her better. But that doesn’t really sound like me. Even now, I’m not demonstratively gregarious in general. I enjoy the company of others, but I’m not outspoken and have little need of small talk. I’m reserved, preferring to let others approach me or initiate conversation. It’s not always the most successful way of being a person, but it seems an unchangeable part of who I am. On this trip to France, that wouldn’t only inhibit my knowing more about my fellow passenger, but would keep me isolated from my own group and to an extent from the other groups we joined with. It might have been nice to have learned different ways of communicating with people prior to this point in my life.
I’ve done some reading about the concept of the “Highly Sensitive Person” recently. I’m starting to think that my reticence has much more to do with being highly sensitive than it does with shyness or introversion. I don’t have direct evidence to support my self-diagnosis, but it makes more sense. I am fascinated by evolutionary psychology and the idea that we as a species have various personality types as a survival strategy for us all. It makes me feel far less alone to know that there exist so many other people whose temperaments are like my own. It’s hard to remember that because the people most likely to share their temperaments are those with far more demonstrative extroverts.
Don’t misunderstand me, I really like myself. And I genuinely enjoy the company of others. I even wish for those around me to understand me and have a desire to get to know me. But I do not have the ability to get past my own nature or to act in a way that seems unnatural to me. I just have to keep finding strategies that make the nature I have work for me. It’s funny that at 36 I have to continue working on the same issues that have kept me at arms length-from others.
Chartres Cathedral is extremely interesting. It was built at the turn of the 13th century and remains a beautiful piece of architecture with a flair that makes it seems like such an imposing building in the city of Chartres, which at the time had a fairly modest population. I had trouble appreciating much of anything on that first day. I found myself so distracted by the amazement I felt just being in Europe for the first time that I had trouble focusing on the details of the one place. The excitement was overwhelming. It might have been nice to spend that first day walking the streets of Chartres, getting to know France in a more intimate way. When I finally get a chance to go back, my experience will be much more about being present in the beautiful towns. At 16, a day to wrap my mind around things would have allowed me to engage sooner.