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We'll Always Have Paris

Je vais aller à Paris la semaine prochaine.

I have been waiting for this my whole life. When I was about four years old, my favorite playmate was a French boy. We played dolls: Madame et Monsieur et les enfants. Once I found out that this magical, beautiful city called Paris really existed, I have been planning my trip to the City of Lights! I've been enchanted with Paris for all the same reasons that so many artists and writers throughout the years have been: the culture, the food, the architecture, the seriousness in which people take beauty and excellence, the bohemian cafe culture.

My grandmother and I would always say to one another, "One day, we're going to Paris!" We imagined ourselves at the Louvre and dining on croissants and coffee at an outdoor cafe . She sent me to college in a vintage red beret, where I exclaimed, "Je suis la femme avec chapeau rouge!" It was the only French I knew. She would buy me little baubles with images of the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Élysées. "One day, Sarah, one day we're going to Paris for real!"

The first art museum I ever visited was the Art Institute of Chicago in my grandmother's hometown. She brought me there when I was 12 or 13. I wore a floral dress that day. I'll never forget seeing Gustav Caillebotte's "Paris Street: Rainy Day" for the first time. My imagination exploded. I could feel the Parisian raindrops on my shoulders. I was transfixed and transported. "I'm going there, you know."

I'm now 40 and about to embark on my first trip to Paris next week. And this trip feels especially meaningful since the Cancer Ordeal of 2017 (tm). I lost my grandmother before I could go. I cannot call her from our Parisian apartment and squeal, "Je suis ici! Je suis ici à Paris!" I take heart in knowing that she can feel my delight from heaven. She is always with me and she will be with me in Paris, too. And I will light a candle at Notre Dame for her.

We had been waiting until we could afford to travel, but after surviving cancer we decided that we can no longer afford not to go. We booked our tickets and the money showed up. Sure, we're still paying off medical bills, but bills can wait. To not go, never knowing how much time any of us have here or how long our health will allow us such adventures, was no longer an option.

Move in the Direction of Your Dreams

I firmly believe that if you move in the direction of your dreams, you will catch them. I have a small collection of books about Paris, including cookbooks. I watch French films and listen to French radio. I started taking French lessons at the local community college. My French skills are not great, but they are better than when I could only say"Je suis la femme avec chapeau rouge!" Plus, I've made some wonderful Francophile friends in my American hometown.

What are your dreams? What small steps can you take to move in their direction?