What Has Been and What Will Be

There are so very many things I want to talk about right now. I want to talk about relationships, about relationship equality, about body image, about changing body image, I want to talk about cankles, and how I just watched my crazy downstairs neighbor smoke in the rain and then take off his sweatshirt and his shirt and dry heave and then 2 other neighbors asked him if he needed help and he didn’t respond, and then he hid behind a tree in the corner like someone on a bad trip. And then he came inside. I want to tell you all about these things in great detail.

But I am crazy town exhausted today, like if I could have left work early on wednesday and come home and slept for 12 hours, I would have. And if I could skip out on work right now I would. But I don’t have any free pto until… July, because I’ve spent it all even before I’ve earned it. Sigh. Sigh x 1000. And one of the big reasons why I have no usable PTO is Barcelona. We leave next TUESDAY! Can you believe it?? I still kind of can’t. To me heading off to Europe is still many moons away. But this is all just a lie I tell myself so I can get through the next few days of work.

And for those of you who don’t know (which is most of you), this is only the 2nd time I’ve been to Europe. Most everyone I know has traveled much more than I have. When I was a kid we didn’t travel outside the US and Canada, and when I was in college the study abroad programs were too expensive for me. So I vowed that I would go places in my 20s. So far I’ve been to Mexico 4 times and Paris once. And now Barcelona. But because you didn’t know me back when I was 23, I thought I would share some vintage Lauren travel moments. Alone in France, figuring it out as best I could:

I was by myself, so I took a lot of self portraits because fuck it, I’m in Paris and when is this going to ever happen again? Hopefully a lot. Because of these self portraits I feel like some of the photos resemble some Photoshop action. Like maybe I wasn’t actually there, but I just pasted my head in.

For the first few days I palled around with two Canadian dudes who were from Toronto. They loved to tell me how fucked up the United States was. One of them took this photo. I still think I look photoshopped.

This is me on the top of Notre Dame. I am clutching a tube. That tube holds a precious print of venus I bought at the louvre, it also holds an oil painting I bought for my parents. I left that tube in 3 places and had it magically returned to me. 1) At an ATM in Paris and a homeless man chased me down to give it back. 2) At the security gate in Huston and 3) In the bathroom above the sink at SFO on my way to Seattle to deliver it. It did, finally, make it to my parents safe and sound and now hangs in their dining room.

This is me, outside the Louvre at the fountains. At the time I was big into the kissy face. I no longer have that jacket with the peter pan collar.

My last day in the city I was bored. Super bored. I had spent 10 days exploring and I had nothing left to do and no more money and all the people I had met at the beginning had already left and I was done. So I decided to try and walk my way to the Eiffel tower from my hostel. And then once I got there I ate a hot dog in a baguette, spilled ketchup on my shirt, and took a million self portraits. And then I walked back.

This is a picture of my hostel room. I slept on the bottom bunk nearest the door. And I shared the room with 5 other people, mostly dudes. One of the dudes was a burly Italian who walked around in his little boy underpants decorated with an anchor and who snored so loud i had to use earplugs. The dude in the photo is one of the Canadians mentioned earlier.

Lots of people at work and such are asking if I’m excited for Spain. It’s hard for me to be excited until I’m on the plane because there is so much to do before I get there. A lot of people keep offering up suggestions on what to do and where to go and what to see. Some of the information has been super helpful (we’re definitely looking to rent bikes, we’re definitely going to enjoy the late night atmosphere), but mostly I’m looking forward to a self guided walking tour we’ve found and the ability to stumble upon amazing things you’d never had expected. And this time I’m really excited to have a buddy to go with.

21 thoughts on “What Has Been and What Will Be”

  1. I’ve never commented before, but I wanted to give you a few more Barcelona tips. We went last March and had an amazing time. The Boqueria Market has fresh juice in a tons of flavors, and they are 2 for 1 euro in the afternoon. Cuines Santa Caterina is amazing and worth all the hype it has on yelp. Walk around as much as you can, but the walk from El Born to Park Guell is long, and involves a large hill, wear walking shoes or take the metro! Barcelona is amazing, I am so jealous!

  2. Those photos are great and I find it so inspiring and brave that you went so far away all on your own! It seems so scary to travel alone!

    I hope you’ll enjoy sharing Spain with Kamel. To me, the best part of any trip, is sharing it with my partner, wondering together what to do next and where are we on that huge map and wasn’t that a zebra? Oh, we need to do it more often for sure.

    PS: if you ever go back to France, I’d love to show you around our beautiful countrysides and many castles and great restaurants!

    1. Where in France do you live?? I’m incred jealous. And I will for SURE take you up on that one day.

      It was surprisingly not scary. I find traveling alone to be very freeing. OF course, I wrote emails to my friends and family every day because I had to share all of the stuff that had happened that day, but I also got to do anything I wanted whenever I wanted without compromising at all for someone elses’ needs. I got to eat when I wanted to and what I wanted and rest when I needed to or not. I def recommend taking a big adventure by yourself at least once in your life. 🙂 🙂

      1. Agreed. I have only taken days on my own and I definitely could go for more. In Paris, I split from my travel partner for one day because (1) he was driving me crazy, (2) he wanted to stop and eat every five minutes (and I somehow got roped into splitting the bill even though I ate half as much, and (3) HE DIDN’T WANT TO GO SHOPPING. It was the best day of my trip!

      2. Traveling alone is one of the things I miss most about singledom.

        BUT I want to explore with C. I mostly just need to go to places he isn’t interested in.

      3. I currently work in Paris but my partner and my home still are in Grenoble, near the Alps, surrounded by the mountains… Oh, I miss my mountains as much as I miss my guy!
        France is a great country because there are so many different landscapes and historical places and you’re so near of many other european countries: that calls for a lot of cheap trips once you’re there!
        Don’t hesitate to mail me if you want to come over here, I mean it!

        And you’re right, I’ll try to treat myself with an alone trip sometime. It’s scary… but it could be very cool! Maybe a day trip to London to visit the british museum and do some shopping?

        1. YOU ARE LIVING MY DREAM. I am so incredibly impressed. I’m assuming you’re also French, so maybe it wasn’t such a stretch for you… and I’m being a goober American. But I can’t help it. I would now like to be your best friend and exchange long emails where you tell me all about your life in great detail so I can live vicariously. Yes, I am a loser. No, I am not joking.

          And I absolutely WILL let you know the next time we are able to lollygag in France. And …. we are also very much wanting to hang out in London sometime soon. So maybe we could also meet up there. 🙂

          1. Well, you do know that I (and probably many others) am totally living through your writing your american life, don’t you? (Yay for losers!)
            My life is probably not very exciting but I do love to write stories (and need to work on my written english), so maybe we could give it a go?

  3. I so want to go on vacation, but we owe so much money on our taxes. Waaah. Maybe we will have recovered by late summer. So, the two week Italy trip I was imagining is starting to shift into a one week Spain trip. We went on our honeymoon but didn’t see Barcelona. I’m thinking three days in Barcelona and a few days on Mallorca (the best part of my honeymoon). Can’t wait to hear about your trip!

  4. Ohh I am so happy for you, this makes me think of my first time in Paris, with friends, staying in hostels, only eating the free breakfast at the hostel , and then on of those baguette sandwiches around four. And walking walking walking.
    I will send you an email with places I love over there ,
    and I know you guys have a sweet tooth so you have to go to Papabubble , a candy shop where you can see how they make the candy. They are in Carrer Ample 28, near the sea (Parallel to Passeig Colom, but behind it)

    http://www.papabubble.com/

    http://maps.google.nl/maps?q=carrer+ample+28+barcelona+&hl=nl&sll=41.380826,2.18081&sspn=0.001262,0.00284&gl=nl&hnear=Carrer+Ample,+28,+08002+Barcelona,+Catalunya,+Spanje&t=m&z=16

    Oh I so wish we could meet you guys over there…
    You know that whenever you have the chance to come again, you have a place to stay here !

  5. I was very broke when I was in Barcelona so I spent a lot of time wandering around and looking at Guadi buildings and eating churros. it was great. The thing we splurged on was a tour of the Palau de la Musica Catalana. It was one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever been in.

    And, I love french hotdogs in baguettes! I usually eat mine on the champs – it’s a tradition!

  6. If you have the balls for it (it being the traffic!), rent a motorbike. No, seriously, they’re EVERYWHERE and you can see a lot of the city without being pooped. Plus, they’re super super fun. I loved Barcelona (Barca, Barca, Barca!), can’t wait to “revisit” it through you!

  7. One day, I will go to Spain. Until then, I’m super excited to read about your trip when you’re back.

    Also: that downstairs neighbour really does take crazy to a new level, doesn’t he?

  8. I’ve also never commented before, but wanted to wish you an amazing time in Barcelona! I spent only a few days there a few years back, but seeing all of the Gaudi art and architecture and La Sagrada Familia was absolutely amazing! While you’re there, I recommend: experience a flamenco show, eat lots of paella, and drink lots of sangria!

  9. YAY solo travel! Some of the absolute best times of my life was when I was in other countries all alone. I can’t wait to hear about your time in Barcelona with your buddy 🙂

  10. I’m so excited for you! I’m embarrassed to admit this, but the furthest I’ve been, travel-wise, is to Canada (my excuse is that I was raised in AZ, where the common vacations were always Vegas and LA, but I know that’s a lame excuse), and reading your blog makes me want to stop being a chicken and do it! Travel! Explore!! Also, I love your exploring-Paris-alone pics. Awesome.

  11. I’ve never been to Spain but I second Tricia in going to a flamenco show. I’ve been dancing flamenco for a couple of years and have been wanting to do that. I’ve been to a few places in Europe and this summer my husband and I are going to Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. I’ve been to Finland before, since that’s where I was born and we still have family there, but my husband hasn’t so I’m looking forward to showing him around.

    Have fun!

  12. I am so excited for you. Barcelona (and the neighboring Belaric Islands) are on the top of my travel list. I hope you & Kamel have an amazing time!

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