As a kid who grew up in South Dakota, I wasn't exactly worldly. Although my family had traveled a lot--I had been to 38 states before high school graduation--international travel was new to me. I made mistakes. I tried too hard to be cool--something I wasn't at all--but made friends quickly with fellow reality-avoiders from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Puerto Rico and Canada. We bonded over our shared side of the Atlantic and our mutual desire to have a good time.
In Paris, Michelle (NY), the Puero Ricans and myself got lost along the winding city streets. None of us spoke French--of course. We were drunk--of course. And things got dicey. Somewhere along the way, the police were called and we were running through the streets in the middle of the night scared of being tossed in a Paris jail for some law we didn't know we had broken. So we ran. We got lost. Very lost.
That night was one of the best memories of the trip. Not the being chased by police--we were never captured, by the way--but the getting lost part. We laughed until we could barely breathe, bonded over the not-knowing-what-the-hell-was-going-on feeling as we tried to figure out how far we were from the beaten path, unified when being screamed at by some Parisian leaning out her window, and mutually shocked when we turned a corner and--wa-la--found our hotel. Getting lost proved to be the best thing that could have happened that night.
The fun mix of Americans, Canadians and Puerto Ricans from 21 years ago--yes, THOSE were the days. (I'm the blonde in the middle--pardon the perm.)
Getting lost is usually the best thing that can happen. If we had stayed with our group, gone to the bar or wherever it was everyone else was going, we would have missed out on a unique adventure. Yes, we were all a bit scared about the police situation (okay, it was a heart-in-the-throat-I-want-to-throw-up feeling), but it turned into a hilarious moment in time that could never be duplicated. (Well, we came close again in Rome with two abusive nuns...but that's another story.)
Getting lost gives us a fresh perspective that we wouldn't have had otherwise. Now when I travel, I like to wander off on my own, toss aside the map, mix with some locals and see what happens. If nothing else, I always end up with a good story.
Some might say that I've been lost since Sean died and I won't argue that. Maybe I have wandered, strayed from my plans, retraced my steps only to deviate from the path completely. I wouldn't change a thing. What I have learned, the things I have seen, the people I have met, the depths I have experienced are priceless in my eyes. Getting lost was not only worth it--but necessary.
Life is an adventure. Getting lost--deviating from the norm--is worth the heart-stopping-is-this-a-good-idea feeling you may get along the way.
I still laugh when I think of Paris. Sometimes the laugh catches someone off-guard who is telling me about their amazing trip, but I can't help but smile remembering how fun it was to get lost in the city of light. C'est la vie.
Just for fun: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals--Paris (courtesy of YouTube).