On Saturday (9/24), I decided to take full advantage of my free afternoon and do some exploring. As I wandered toward the pedestrian street and the cathedral, two guys around my age turned and waited for me. My first thought was, “Oh god they’re going to catcall me,” but one of them just asked if I had a cigarette lighter.
Awkwardly, it turned out we were all headed for the same place, so after I snapped a picture of Picardie, I turned and moseyed into the cathedral because I’m a suspicious person in a patriarchal world and didn’t want to keep talking to random dudes. (Why did they want to know how old I am, or where I live???)
The cathedral was built from 1150-1180, and meandering through it, I felt like a blip in time, much like when I’d stood in the Colosseum. After I finished very self-consciously click-clacking through all that history in my heeled boots, I sat in the tourist office for a while, playing “How long can I sit here and use their wi-fi before it gets awkward?”
Eventually, I wandered back outside to the panoramic view, gazing out at the vast Picardie landscape sprawled out before me, a sea of houses and plains and bright blue sky. And right there and then, with the sun shining down on me and the wind ruffling the grass and my hair, I had an emotional moment. My thoughts drifted to my friends and professors who helped me get to Laon, and standing there on top of the hill, I absolutely did not start crying. After having so many people encouraging and helping me to fulfill my dream of going back to France, it was kind of bittersweet that, in the end, I was taking in that incredible view alone.
But I know that they’re all happy for me, so I wiped away my tears and walked away from that picturesque backdrop, filled with a new resolve to do my best in TAPIF, to take advantage of this opportunity of a lifetime by living life to the fullest here. So I promptly went into a bakery and bought a ridiculously delicious strawberry macaron, confusing the baker—“Just one? That’s all?”—and, while wandering through narrow French streets, ate it for all of you.