"It looks like Ohio," he said in response to my oohs and aahs. How plainly put. With my nose pressed against the cold window during the last leg of our flight to Paris, the northern French countryside could've been the surface of the moon. After circling above the Baltic Sea and starting our descent into Charles de Gaulle one could only hope that the thirteen hours of miniature cocktails, artsy Swedish plastic ware, and aromatherapy eye pillows had taken us further than Ohio.
What a fine time to travel to France. A week prior, much to the United Nations chagrin, United States President George W. Bush had just unleashed his attack against Saddam Hussein and had sent the world into a "terror" stricken uproar. French President Jacques Chirac was one of a handful of western leaders to publicly condemn America's attack on Iraq. In order to avoid as much anti-American sentiment as possible--and to pacify my mother's apprehension--we had considered adopting Canadian accents and peppering our luggage with his and hers Oh Canada stickers.
However, Eli hates stickers and it all seemed a bit too silly for me, so in the end we settled for black shoes (the French rarely wear tennis shoes) and a tee shirt with a small British Columbia emblem on the breast pocket as our disguises.
I had half expected the city streets to be alive with music from a Jeunet film, and though I consider the smaller cities in France to be more romantic, I was very pleased with my first impression of Paris. But, how strange it was to be in such an unfamiliar place! Such immense diffidence came over me; nearly every word of French I knew was dripping out of my ears and making quite a mess on the sidewalk leaving me...