95.Train of thought

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Today I write onboard the JTV, the fast train from Paris to Nice. I claimed seat 45 carriage 1 at 10am, for a six hour journey through the languid French countryside. Nothing chill about the speed of this thing though; we are slicing through the countryside like our pantaloons are on fire.

I love love love train travel. Something about the rhythm of the beast, the silkiness of the changing view, the lack of turbulence. Something about permission to be still.

There’s something old school and charming about riding trains. Between the food car, the conductors, and the world flying by outside your window, there’s a nostalgic appeal that comforts.

With no take off, landing or seat-belt signs, you’re not stuck in your seat for endless amounts of time. You can move about the train at will. Since someone else is doing the driving, you’re free to eat, drink, nap and wander whenever you like. You also never have to endure another cheesy Air New Zealand safety video.

The era we live in is loud, and filled with static. There are so many things calling us – unseasonal storms, unreasonable deadlines, dependents and independents, apocalyptic nightmares filled with yam coloured fascists, the white noise of social media – in a frenzy today of course after America reveals its moral compass is broken.

Dedicating solid time to a book or, hang on a minute, even my own thoughts is becoming more of an ambition that a daily reality.

Today though I have a date with my brain and a notebook, and the view outside my window. Apart from the Nice train station, I wonder where I might end up?

94.An introvert in Paris

 

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I’m in the lobby restaurant of the Hotel Jeu de Paume, on a cold and wet Monday in Paris. Nestled between the two arms of the Seine River, Jeu de Paume has been sheltering travellers since the 17th century so it’s coping well with this one.

It’s raining and Im fine with that. So very fine. My holiday will be populated soon enough, but today I have a date with me.

Choosing to do fuck all in Paris doesn’t feel unproductive to me.

 

screen-shot-2Like many introverts, I crave time alone. Whereas an extrovert might get bored or antsy spending a day in solitude, I’m more inclined to get bored or antsy in company. I’d rather talk in front of 500 people than mingle with them afterwards. Networking makes me feel phony and small talk isn’t a strength.

That said, most of my ‘achievements’ today will involve highly considered small talk – in French. I’ve been learning French, and forgetting what I’ve just learned promptly afterwards, once a week for over a year now. I regularly declare to my three fellow students that I must be suffering from an undiagnosed brain condition, such is my ability to swiftly forget what I have just learnt.

Today though I have asked for hot water for tea, and I have asked about borrowing an umbrella, and I have made friends with two staff and another guest – in French, actual French. I have learned how to request slow talk for the student; I have connected with the power of vulnerability. People want to help.

It thrills me that when I attempt to communicate, I am actually understood. Maybe learning French will strengthen my small talk game. This introvert is up for that.