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As the Paris portion of our first trip together ended, it was already clear Carol and I were well-matched as traveling companions. And by this I mean, Carol is the polar opposite of the flake that I am. She’d made peace with my OCD approach to train schedules, and had gently nudged me toward finding […]
Another piece of new train knowledge I gained today was not to take a seat in a four-seat configuration. The rider sitting across from you means you cannot stretch your legs. Never mind that the rider in this case is a stunning brunette who could have stepped out of a Cosmo ad (a copy of which she was flipping through). At my age I need to stretch my legs or I may require the Jaws of Life to get me out of my seat by the time the trip is over, rather than have a pretty face to look at for an hour.
When I decided to self-publish the journal I’d kept of the time Carolyn and I were first together in 1972, I gave all the real people fictional names. Carolyn’s became Danielle. She liked it. “Very French,” she told me. In these recent years, whenever we fell into conversation about that time in our lives, we called it “visiting Danielle.” In many aspects, from traveling alone to beginning again in Paris, this current trip carried a strong feeling of “visiting Danielle.”
As far as traveling alone, it’s the way I’d started out. In June, 1971 I arrived in Paris with less than two hundred dollars in my wallet, and no idea where I would be spending my first night. I treated the city as if it were a Disney theme park. Oblivious of urban dangers I’d be terrified of back home, I meandered the streets of Paris on foot from seven in the morning until ten at night, cheerfully oblivious to all the historic and culturally significant sites and landmarks I passed. At night I’d sit in a café and put down all I had learned in a journal, most of which was a gumbo of proto-emo angst, insecurity, lonesomeness and a struggle to get laid masquerading as a quixotic search for cosmic love.