You have played, (I think) And broke the toys you were fondest of, And are a little tired now; Tired of things that break, and— Just tired. So am I. – e.e. cummings
A few weeks ago I began writing a blog post to detail the recent developments and setbacks regarding my legs. This summer I started seeing a new physical therapist — my ninth in eight years. I needed to write about it, both to update my friends and to make sense of it myself. I've sat down to work on that post nearly a dozen times since then, but I end each typing session without hitting publish. I just save draft and close my computer because none of what I write about it makes any sense.
I pasted the draft into a Word document earlier this week in hopes that I'd be able to compose better in another program. It was nine pages. Single-spaced.
And then last night I remembered those lines from an e.e. cummings poem. I think he said in 30 words what I hadn't managed to say in nine pages: I am tired of things that break.
My legs had been doing so much better. I had started running again. But I was hitting snags — new minor injuries — along the way. So I started PT again. It brought back too many memories and emotions from the hours and weeks and months and years that I'd spent in and out of physical therapy and doctors' offices before. And it made me realize that I'm not as far along as I thought I was. I am so prone to injury. I have typical flexibility and strength problems, but they're coupled with tricky biomechanical issues, some of which I must have been born with and some of which I assume resulted from the years that I spent moving incorrectly to compensate for pain.
It's so disheartening to be in pain again. My brain may know that it's different pain, that it has already been diagnosed, that it can't possibly last as long as my old problems. But my heart doesn't. I'm so scared and discouraged and frustrated.
I still remember a conversation I had with my friends early in college. We were talking about our fears. And I said, "I'm scared my legs won't get better — or that they'll get better and then I'll get hurt again."
"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. . . . Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
– 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16-18
You may remember hearing that the Seine River flooded a few months ago. Because of this, the Musée de Louvre was closed during our first few days in Paris, which meant we couldn’t visit it until our last full day in the city.
Before hitting the museum, Marie and Taylor and I started the day with pastries again because Paris. (White bread is basically protein there.) We took the metro to the Louvre and met up with our friend James at an adjacent Starbucks. (This would be our real fuel for the day.) James was one of our good friends from Asbury and just happened to be in Paris briefly after touring Turkey and Iraq and Italy and I can’t even remember where else. (Let’s just say he got questioned at U.S. Customs when he returned.) It was perfect timing to meet up with him.
Not six hours after we’d crawled into bed following a day in Versailles, we rose again to continue exploring Europe. My sadness over our abbreviated night of sleep was lessened by the fact that we were GOING TO LONDON, the city I’d always most wanted to see. We got ready groggily and walked through mental and literal fog to the metro, which we took to the train station. For some reason I’d been worried, yet again, that we would be stopped attempting to move from country to country (because we look so menacing and everything). But after getting our passports stamped without a hitch, we arrived at our Chunnel train with seven minutes to spare.
Our first stop Monday morning was Rue Crémieux, which is a whole road lined with pastel houses. We went just to marvel at its cuteness. It looks like Instagram and Anthropologie had a street together. I imagine its homes are inhabited by life-size Polly Pockets who keep My Little Ponies as pets.
After admiring (and maybe envying) the colorful homes, we made our way to Place des Vosges, which is cute but in a different way. It is the oldest planned square in Europe and was also once the home of Victor Hugo. (Going to France really made me want to re-watch — maybe even read!?!? — Les Mis.) Place des Vosges, as far as I can tell, is like the 17th-century version of a subdivision. Not only were the houses perfectly symmetrical, but the trees were trimmed into rectangles. There was something very Alice-in-Wonderland about it.
Paris, I was surprised to find, is much like the cartoons portray it. For instance, in the week we were there, I repeatedly saw men playing accordions on street corners. (I know, right?) In these moments, it felt as though Paris was caricaturing itself.
If you thought (like I did) that the cute little Parisian pastry shops were just a cartoon stereotype of the city, you’d be wrong. There’s a boulangerie (bakery) and a pâtisserie (pastry shop) on practically every block of the city. Pastry shops are to Paris what Walgreens are to Chicago.