Life, you are funny. Really funny.
A year ago, I graduated from high school. I graduated with a set of friends whom I now barely have any contact with. I remember that summer having that feeling of, “this is the last time… the last time we will be sitting here, all of us together, around the fire talking and enjoying each others company in this way. The world is at our feet”. In two years, a lot has changed. I packed my bags and left to go to the other side of the world by myself, into the unknown. The funny thing is when I moved here, the last thing I expected was to become friends with someone who had been in the same class I graduated from back in small town Indiana.
Liz DM’d me on twitter a few weeks ago telling me that she was going to fly into Paris for her birthday weekend (she is studying in Spain) and wanted to know hot spots, must sees and great places to eat. Remembering Liz as a really nice person (I remember waving and smiling at each other in the hallways… We never even had a true, sit down conversation/hung out in high school), I told her to stay at my place if she wanted. She took up my offer and it started a remarkable, unexpected friendship.
When she arrived Friday, I honestly was worried that it was going to be somewhat awkward at first. We had not been in the same things in high school and hung out with completely different people, but I knew having home in common was going to help. Our first night we bought a bottle of wine and sat by the Eiffel Tower (with creepy vendors trying to sell us things and ruining the moment) talking about life, home and dreams. We are two young girls who were crazy enough to move away from what they know… After that conversation, I knew we were starting a crazy, unexpected friendship.
Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another : What! You too? Thought I was the only one…” -C.S. Lewis
The next day, I received a text message from her, “guess what?!” My reply was, “what?” And she surprised me, “we are going to Moulin Rouge tonight”. That was how our adventurous Saturday began, knowing we were finishing it with a show at Moulin Rouge. When she came over, we decided to go to the Louvre, they have this really cool exhibit at the moment about Middle Age Islamic art in Spain. Something really awesome about France is that certain museums give you free access if you are an E.U. citizen (so guess who got into the Louvre for free?!). Sadly though, that exhibit is only for a limited time and you have to pay to get into that one. So instead, we just decided to tour free exhibits at the Louvre and take selfies outside because, you know, we are tourists.
Inside, we were dying to take a selfie with Mona Lisa. We had heard that she was overrated and extremely small. As we spoke about Leonardo Da Vinci, we mentioned The Last Supper, wondering if it was at the Louvre as well (we were pretty positive it was). We walked into the room which holds Mona Lisa, the first thing you see. We took pictures with her and in leaving, I turned and behind us was the MASSIVE painting of The Last Supper. That was what took my breath away. As everyone was crowding Mona Lisa, I could not believe that there were not as many people crowding this impeccable painting. To just think about the amount of work that went into painting that blew my mind away.
Afterwards, we decided we needed to go shopping. I mean, we were going to Moulin Rouge that night and I definitely felt like I had nothing in my closet for a night like that in Paris. Packing my bags, I packed knowing that I was going to end up buying clothes in the city of fashion. We went to Galleries of Lafayette near Opera. I had heard that Printemps, another mall in Paris nearby, had a really good view of Paris. A store clerk told us that Galleries of Lafayette had a similar view on the 7th (8th floor in the States). We decided to see it and it was breathtaking. The beautiful Opera house was right in front of us and to our right was the Eiffel Tower, with the sun setting behind it.
There was a bar that Liz had researched on the internet called Les Ombres. It apparently had a great view of the Eiffel Tower so we decided to go before heading back to my apartment to change and go to the show. When we arrived, we were confused. There was a big, glass wall where the bar was supposed to be. When we found the entrance, we entered this lit garden that was breathtaking. There were signs pointing to a restaurant and we were confused. When we entered the building, there was an elevator we took to the top level. When we got off, we walked up to the hostess who explained to us you needed a reservation to eat at the restaurant, but she allowed us to take pictures from the balcony of the Eiffel Tower. It was beautiful and she was so sweet about it.
That was one thing I explained to Liz, I have not truly felt that the French are cold and rude people. The only people I have felt that have been that way are officials or companies (which where else are those kinds of people actually nice?). Paris is a big city, and you have people from all kinds of backgrounds. Some are going to be nice and others are going to be rude, but you find that everywhere. In my experience, the French have frankly been quite amiable.
We ended up having dinner at a bistro nearby, with a waitress who seemed really stressed. When we asked for the bill, she came by about four times and kept telling us she was going to bring it. She came back thinking she had brought it and was confused. When we left the bistro, we knew we had to hurry. We only had about an hour and a half until the show started and it was going to be half an hour to my apartment, changing and then heading to Moulin Rouge which I approximated to take about 15 minutes from my place. We got to my place, changed, went to the metro and when we got off, it was 11:00 on the dot so we literally RAN. We ran through the streets in our heels and blazers, laughing at how cliche the whole thing was. “Why do we not have a reality T.V. show?!” I said (honestly, I don’t watch reality T.V. but I have a feeling two young girls moving to a foreign city would be popular). We were breathless by the time we got to Moulin Rouge and saw that there was a long line waiting to be seated. We had made it on time.
We were seated. Our tickets gave us a bottle of champagne so that was brought to our table. It was really good. When we finished it, we asked how much another bottle would be. It would have been 74 euros. We definitely decided to not buy a second bottle. We watched the show, which I swear I have not seen as many naked boobs assembled together ever before in my life. The costumes were amazing and sparkling and breathtaking. The things the dancers could do with their bodies were amazing, and Liz and I got out of there with the mindset of needing to hit the gym. The show mostly was about how different each culture is but how it all comes down to love in the end. As we watched the show with our empty champagne bottle on the table, a waiter came up with another one. “We did not pay for this,” we exclaimed but he assured us that it was on the house. We got a free bottle of champagne at Moulin Rouge. We still have no idea how that happened, but it did.
We closed Sunday by spending it at Hotel de Ville, seeing the outside of Notre Dame and meeting one of her cousin’s friends. He was really nice and is in the same situation as me, 19 and in studying in Paris. Liz told me she had completely forgotten that she lived in Spain and wanted to stay. Without even thinking about it, I blurted out, “what if you move here next year with me?” I already know I am staying, I decided that three weeks into my program. This is where I want to go to school. I can, especially with my Spanish citizenship. I will not come out with $100,000 in debt and Paris actually has good schools. She looked at me surprised and said, “let’s do it.”
We went from somewhat strangers to roomies next year. Only in Paris.