Read part one here.
I am listening to the people around me speaking the language that I am studying all of the time. What is it about French that’s so beautiful and mesmerising? The atmosphere is one thing that I crave. We are sitting on a cramped train surrounded by busy French people when a band steps on. It is just what you’d expect. The accordion heavy song straight out of a movie that features Paris. And then they get off. They left a hat down but I am shocked to see that they don’t beg. They don’t even seem to monitor what money is going in. It makes me feel sorry that I didn’t throw a bit of change their way but I was way too distracted by the ambiance.
While we are in a queue, I see a girl with her phone camera pointed at me. After we’ve moved up in the line she looks down at the screen. It’s a video she took of me while I chat to Emma. She zooms in on my face, directing the camera to my Adam’s Apple. She looks up and sees me staring at her. Staring straight into her soul. I’m awfully good at making people feel inferior with a certain stare that I’ve mastered. I consider telling Emma but what’s the point? I’m on my holidays and a video of me out there is not the end of the world.
One morning I go out by myself. I pick up some bits in the shops, practicing my French with the shopkeepers. I’ve always been a bit more focused on the accent rather than knowing all of the words. It pays off. I feel happy to think that the shopkeepers may believe that I’m French.
I then begin searching. Montmartre isn’t very touristy but there is still an impression that the cafés close to the square aren’t authentically Parisian. I’ll know it when I see it. I stroll past smelly fish stands and cheap, plastic looking shops. I wander right into the unfamiliar areas, turning down alleyways and strange little lanes. I’m not worried about finding my way back. I’m surprisingly excellent at navigating my way around cities.
Then I see it. A small group of chic people sit outside wearing sunglasses and smoking cigarettes beside their little dogs. Inside, along a bar sits a row of intimidating older men sipping their espressos and watching the TV. The displays don’t contain a single word of English and it seems like a very unfriendly place for tourists.
It is here that I sit and and write for an hour sipping a divine cappuccino. I walk back to the hotel in an amazing mood.
For New Years Eve, Emma and I agree that we aren’t bothered with celebrations. We’ve never really been that into the whole New Years thing and we’re just happy grabbing a Chinese and chatting. We’re both exhausted and after reading we switch out the lights. Emma drops off immediately but I lie awake for a while. The window at the bottom of my bed is propped somewhat open and I can hear the countdown happening.
I reflect on 2015. A lot has happened, good and bad. This has probably been the year that has shaped me in the most intense way. I’ve learned an awful lot, and sacrificed an awful lot, and gained an awful lot. Then I think of the year ahead. I don’t believe in resolutions but as I lie here, I think of ideas for a project that I can work on.
That was when the idea to write my book hit me. That was when I began to plan “Who Cares?” I wish I could say that I had no idea the effect that my book would have at that time, but I kind of did. I knew I had a story to tell and that people would want to hear it. The only thing I was unsure of was whether I would finish it or not.
The next day I don’t tell Emma about this idea. I don’t tell anyone for a while. I need to work it out. Keep it to myself until I’m sure that it’s what I want.
When we return to Ireland I feel refreshed, inspired and goal oriented. I actually have a project for the first time in ages. I feel like I have a sense of purpose again. As though I’m finally finished treating myself as fragile and wounded for the first time in a year and a half. It’s beautiful and exhilarating and terrifying. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Read about my first days in Dublin here.
Watch how to stay motivated below: