When I was a child, my sister Katie and I would have “adventures” — that’s what we called them. We pretended to be nurses at a hospital, or had the power to communicate with animals. We ventured far and wide through the endless landscapes… of dad’s barn. We had stick horses and rode the prairie for hours.
We became obsessed with a movie serial called “The Black Whip” about a cowgirl whose brother — The Black Whip — is murdered. She takes over his job as owner of the local newspaper, and assumes his secret identity. No one knows The Black Whip is now a woman….
And so we made our own whips from broom handles and braided twine. We spun them through the air, lashed the trees in our yard, pulled down sawhorses, opened gates… we battled Bad Guys and used our Whip Skills to Save The Day.
That’s the power of imagination — we didn’t have to go anywhere to go somewhere.
Maybe I’ve never fully left childhood. I still love to visualize all sorts of possibilities and adventures for myself and my future.
Whenever I go to a new city I imagine I’m moving there. I look at apartments and real estate listings. I explore neighborhoods as if I’m choosing the right one. It feels very real to me — I experience excitement and disappointment, as if these choices were imminent and genuine. Just because I’m pretending doesn’t mean it seems false, if that makes sense.
In four weeks I will fly to Paris and spend a month getting to know that magical city.
I research online before I leave, beginning with understanding the process for getting from the airport to the apartment/hotel where I’m staying.
Last night, I looked up the Paris subway system — the Metro — and felt immediate intimidation.
Paris Metro Map
It’s a complex multi-track multiple train system with 303 stations! For comparison’s sake, San Francisco’s subway system has 44 stations. How do these cities compare in size? SF is larger, about 46 square miles; Paris covers 41 square miles.
(But New York wins, hands down: it has 469 stations. It has the largest public transportation system on the planet based on station numbers.)
My apartment is located in the 12th arrondissement, and is about 300 feet (100 meters *) from the Metro’s Nation Station. I will have easy access to any part of the city I want to see.
* I wish the United States had adopted the metric system. It’s difficult to determine who to blame. President Reagan for dismantling the United States Metric Board in 1982? American hostility (and apathy) to the notion? Only two other countries on the planet — Burma and Liberia — haven’t changed (though Burma is in the process.) The metric system was created in France and adopted there around 1799. It has a fascinating history. Whenever I travel, I have to refresh my metric system memory.
I’m already pretending I’m moving to Paris. I think it’s the puzzle aspect that interests me. What would it be like to live there full-time? My fledgling French (four semesters at Baylor) would be forced to grow till I was fluent.
What is the climate like? Which part of the city could I afford? Which neighborhoods are close to the things I need like museums and food markets? How would I support myself?
I better get cracking!
I have lots to accomplish in the next four weeks.