I was heartbroken, so I went to Paris.
It was only 5 days, so it wasn't really running away. It was more like I was so sad I couldn't think of how to come back to my normal life, so I removed myself from normal life and made good use of the frequent flier miles I'm lucky enough to accrue.
It was comforting to be back in Paris. To step off the plane at CDG and know which train to get on, which stop to get off, which streets to walk down to get to my airbnb flat. Nothing had really changed and I remembered far more than I thought I would.
After a month of being terrified to be alone, I found myself in the distracted solitude that travel brings. Where you're definitely alone, but having to concentrate enough on navigating foreign surroundings that loneliness registers differently.
I went for walks, I went to museums, I went running. I worked, I drank good wine, ate unpasteurized cheese, and after 2 years away got my hands on some decent bread.
Do you have friends in Paris? People ask, and the truth is, I don't. I always make friends once I'm there, but it's the city I love, not specific people there.
There were armed military stationed throughout, especially around the more popular monuments. There were metal detectors and security personnel asking you to open your purse and jacket before you walked into stores or metro stops. I've spent enough time in countries where big guns in public are commonplace, but it was still jarring to see in Paris. Scars of a safe city still reeling from tragedy.
It's a strange realization to come to as an adult, understanding you'll probably always be torn between places. Paris is far away from my family, and friends, and my company, so to build a life there would be hard for a number of reasons. When I'm in Paris, I miss Pittsburgh. When I'm in Pittsburgh, I ache for Paris.
It helped. Being there.
Anywhere you go, there you are. My heartache, self-doubt, and bruised ego were certainly still with me while I wandered around le marais, but they were less pronounced. And now that I'm home, I feel more like myself. So sometimes it pays to take a break before coming back to normal life. And if you find yourself needing a break, well, there's always Paris.