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Written Under the English Channel

I wish I’d known many things before this trip. I wish I’d known that planning is pointless. I wish I’d known that even though Time Out City Guide Books are small–which is a good thing–they are not very helpful. I wish I’d known more about the location of our hotel, the better areas of London, and that you can’t use American credit cards in tube ticket booths. But most of all, I wish I’d known how this sort of travel would make me feel.

I have never been so stressed out by anything in my entire life. I wake up in the morning, every morning, and have a panic attack in the shower. It is not pleasant. And despite my ‘New Attitude’, and the great day we had in London yesterday, and the fact that right now, as I write this, I’m on the Eurostar to Paris, if someone at home asked me ‘are you having a great time?’, I’d have to say no. Because that would be the truth.

And it is not London or public transit or anything else that is keeping me from having a good time–it is me. It seems I don’t do trips like this very well, which honestly was news to me. I’ve traveled a moderate amount within the US, often alone, and I’ve been fine. And while I’ve discussed my feelings for New York City, I love DC, and Vancouver is my favorite place on earth–both fairly large cities. So it is coming as a huge shock to me that rather than waking up in the morning and thinking something like, oh I don’t know, ‘holy crap, we’re going to Paris today!’, i think ‘oh god, how am I going to deal with today?’ And that’s not a vacation.

I actually told my husband this morning that after this trip, we are going to be that kind of traveler that I hate, that only goes to all inclusive resorts to sit on beaches that all look the same. He asked–do you really want to be those people? And no, no I do not. But I also don’t want to be the person I am now, popping xanax and shaking with nerves, smack dab in the middle of what was supposed to be a great adventure.

This train arrives in Paris in a little over a half hour. And I’m honestly kind of bummed that the ride is almost over. Because when I’m on the train, I don’t have to try to find a ticket booth, I don’t have to figure out transportation, I don’t have to find my way around a new city, I don’t have to wonder where the bathroom is, I don’t have to find my way to a random security desk to get a key for the apartment we’re renting. I can actually relax. For the next 36 minutes, anyway.

NOTE:  All of the above was written on the train.  I’m currently working on the masterpiece of awful that is the description of the trip from the station to the apartment.  Spoiler alert–it took longer than the trip from London to Paris.

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