Thursday, November 17, 2011

The End of the End

Coming at you live from the exciting corner of my room, eating Nutella out of the jar with a spoon!!  It’s been nearly a MONTH since I’ve given any sort of update at all.  For good reason, because it’s been a jam-packed past month filled with good times, friends, laughter, goodbye gatherings, and memories, and I’m almost afraid I’ll forget it all if I don’t document it somewhere. 

November marks the end of Fat Tire’s busy season, and this is the month where everyone leaves.  I’ve been spending every possible minute I can with this group that has become my Paris family.  I don’t know how to express the weirdness and sadness that’s going on inside me.  At first, I doubted whether I’d form any kind of connection with this group of people, I felt so much like an outsider most of the time.  Then somewhere along the way, it changed. 

It had to be sometime after the seemingly endless early 8am’s, attempting half-nice-sounding “good mornings” through groggy eyes while hauling bikes outside…maybe it started when the notoriously stoic tour guide, Ned, who didn’t even make eye contact in the morning let alone respond to your hello, started giving a round of morning hugs.

Maybe it was all those battles together at the Javel train station, shoveling customers onto trains (with their bikes) into a sea of commuters, or stacking bikes at the end of a 12-hour day, after getting 100 people through the office, past the register, through that disgusting smelling bathroom, onto a bike they haven’t attempted to ride in 10 years.  I believe there is an unspeakable bond amongst accomplished, educated people who are cleaning toilets as part of the deal to stay in Paris.  

More likely, it developed across many nights under the Eiffel Tower drinking wine out of little white plastic cups with the makings of a poor man’s picnic spread before us.  We’d tell time by the Eiffel Tower because it gets more beautiful as the night goes on, and we’d cheer along with the rest of the Champs de Mars each time it sparkled.  Each cheer-inducing twinkle reminded us that another hour had already passed until suddenly the darkened tower with only white sparkles told us it was 1am.  Then we’d just hang out and laugh and talk under its darkened silhouette. 

I think of serene, almost impossibly beautiful late night bike rides with these friends through empty Paris streets that made me want to pinch myself because I felt so lucky.  Throw in girls’ night dinners, and boat rides down the Seine, and dancing in the streets, and late night conversations in the kitchen.  More late nights at our favorite neighborhood bistro, and even later "How did it get so late?" nights at the familiar Canadian pub.

We worked together, got frustrated and tired together, and laughed and danced and acted stupid together, and complained together and saw beautiful things together.  Little by little, friendships & bonds formed slowly over time until they became something, the way the trees on Rue Edgar Faure were suddenly one day this glorious bright orange color that really wasn’t that way yesterday.  A few bonds were formed quickly and easily, and with those friends came deeper conversations, the revealing of fears, doubts, hurts, questions, family, beliefs, death, life.  We are each other’s friends and family and support system here.  

It’s a strange and beautiful thing.  I watch them walk out the front door of the Fat Tire office and out of my life, probably forever, like a movie scene that requires some great soundtrack to accompany that walk up the hill.  Yesterday, another guide left, giving a round of hugs before making his epic movie scene don’t-look-back walk off into the distance.  Then I went to the bathroom, closed the door, and stood in the middle and cried because I was so sad that everyone is leaving.

I realized that this is the end of the end.  A chapter is closing, and this one feels like a volume.  Like I’m reading the last few pages of this book but I don’t want it to end.  I’m grateful – so grateful – that I have at least another year here in Paris, because Paris is just…I don’t even have words.  But this experience with these people has reached its end and can never be repeated.  I have so many beautiful moments and memories that I’ll cherish, and I have lots of Fat Tire friends to thank for that.

Eventually, I’ll get out of my sadness slump, and then I’ll share some good stories and memories, and this will be a chipper place again.  But for now...someone needs to take away this jar of Nutella.  And I mean, please sneak into my apartment and physically remove it from the cupboards.  And by cupboards, I mean bedside table.


  1. Julie--Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us. Reading your post I felt like I was sitting right there with you in the corner of your room sharing a nice jar of nutella with you. I dream of living in Paris but for now I live it a little through your stories. Love you and hope to hang out if you return to Dallas someday!! And may the Lord be the lifter of your head and the comfort of your heart tonight---may He be the nutella for your soul ;)

  2. Thanks for sharing Julie. I am so glad that you have been having a wonderful time in Paris and made so many special memories over this past year. Praying that the Lord would continue to watch over you and bless you.

  3. This is such a touching post. I stumbled upon your blog after seeing you on House Hunters because you are living my dream that I never had the guts to live myself. Thanks for sharing all of your adventures!! I've enjoyed reading your blog.

    1. Aw thanks so much! I'm glad you've enjoyed it. I can't believe it's been 2 years already since filming w/ House Hunters (and living here!). It really has flown by. Just remember...never too late to move to Paris. :) Or at least come for a long visit.