“I genuinely would recommend anyone going through a break-up to go on holiday as soon as they can,” I told a friend the other day. “It’s the best way to clear your head and make a proper stab at getting over everything.”
Paris was beautiful.
When I’d booked it back in January with The Bessie to coincide with the end of her first year as a teacher, I had no idea just how important it would end up being to me.
A week after I said goodbye to Him, I was on a plane to the most beautiful city in the world.
Paris had always been Our place.
The first night, myself and The Bessie sat on the steps of Palais de Chaillot as the sun began to set and waited for the Eiffel Tower lights to be turned on.
We amused ourselves by watching the rollerbladers perform stunts and tricks, in the same way I had watched skateboarders in the exact same spot with Him two years beforehand on our very first night together in Paris.
That was difficult.
However, as the sun beat down on us the next day, trips through the city to Notre Dame and the Sacre Coeur started to clear some of the clouds from my brain.
As I skipped down the steep stone steps on the butte Montmartre, clutching a precious bottle of water I felt so far from my life that the pain eased and I felt positive for the first time in a long time.
Later that afternoon, I sat on the curb across from Oscar Wilde’s tomb after a walk around Pere Lachaise.
As I watched tonnes of people scramble to take a picture of the grave of a man whose work they probably never read, I thought about whether the flesh coloured tights I was wearing were too shiny or if I was getting away with faking ‘the natural look’.
Probably not what Wilde would’ve hoped for, but it was nice to be thinking about something as shallow as that after so many heavy thoughts.
A couple of days later, we travelled out to Versailles and after a gruelling walk in high temperatures that Irish people are just not made to survive in, we reached the home of Marie Antoinette – the Petit Trianon. It was possibly the most fascinating place I’ve ever seen in my life and we were both awe-struck and disgusted at how much money she pumped into creating the most unbelievable fairytale-like village.
I wanted to live there.
Every night, we visited the same restaurant I always went to with Him.
No break-up should stop you from getting the best pizza in the world.
I sat there wondering if the owners would recognise me from the other times I’d been there.
Mr Owner did not disappoint: “You’ve been here before, yes? Yes, I remember you. You look like Lily Allen.” Last summer, he told me I looked like Sophie Ellis-Bextor…neither comparisons are true, but I definitely preferred the original one.
On our last night, he presented us with large shots that tasted of Lemon Sherbet, after his wife removed our plates, chuckling at the fact I’d ordered the same pizza yet again.
“You are special,” he said to me. “You are one of the special visitors.”
I knocked it back and headed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe to get one last look at the city that had stolen my heart.
Standing up there, with the wind whipping my hair in all directions, I watched the people around me – families, couples, friends, all smiling and happy.
American girls laughed as they tried to get every possible pose pictured with the Eiffel Tower behind them. I knocked into one of them as I tried to squish by their large group.
“Whoops! Sorry about that, “ I said.
“Omg, no,” she exclaimed, “that was so totally my fault”.
Smiling at her and waving off her apology, I nearly walked into the Japanese man who had walked up the long flight of stairs in front of me. He smiled apologetically and bowed.
I felt it would be nice to stay up here forever and just continue to have pleasant moments with complete strangers.
People are so lovely when they’re happy.
And that’s when it hit me.
We hadn’t been lovely to each other, because we weren’t happy.
It wasn’t the other way round.
I felt a surge of relief.
It wasn’t our fault.
We hadn’t caused it by doing something awful
We hadn’t done anything wrong.
We just didn’t make each other happy.
That was all.
I floated down the hundreds of steps and emerged from the structure feeling new and hopeful.
Everything was going to be okay.