I grew up on a small street in a suburb of a suburb in west-central Florida. The street was short – only about 20 houses – and boomerang shaped. It was a quiet, idyllic neighbourhood, and although I resented it at the time, I understand why someone would move there. My neighbours were other families or older people seeking a peaceful retirement without the isolation. The palm fronds would whisper across the window pane on a breezy day, usually accompanied by the ringing of wind chimes on the lanai out back. Our frangipani (or Plumeria) grew to be so large in the front garden that it eventually covered the walk up to the house – to the point we had to walk around it, and solicitors, not seeing a way round, would just walk away. A rather peaceful, small existence for this young gay boy seeking city life and cooler temperatures.

Remembering those childhood memories, soaked with water from hurricanes and basked in the warm orange glow of the Florida sunset, do not inherently lead to the existence I lead today, which I find fascinating. The hustle and bustle of city life, the gritty Manhattan streets lined with soulless glass towers and 19th-century brick houses, the swarms of people and language and food – it can often be overwhelming, but at the same time, it is so very real.

All of this reflection is in anticipation of my next endeavour – my first trip abroad. Embarrassingly, at nearly 27 years old, I am finally leaving the US for the first time. Yup, I’ve never been to Canada, or Mexico, or Puerto Rico, the Bahamas – nope, nope, nope! So where is my first stop? The grand avenues and cobblestone alleys of Paris.

If you stop to think about it, I have an impression of what Paris is – I know people who live there, who were born there; I’ve seen it countless times in movies, television and media since I was a child. But what is it like to be there? To interact with a new set of people, all whom mill about their daily lives, thousands of miles away where I live mine? That sense is so interesting and surreal to me, and I am looking forward to experiencing life and the world outside America.

*This post was written in May/June 2017, prior to my trip, but I’m just getting round to posting it now. I find it interesting now that I’ve taken the trip!

// Montmarte, Paris, France – 17 June 2017


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