I am going to Paris.
I have been studying French since sixth grade. I have lived in language immersion housing at BYU for three semesters and I know way too much about French art and history (read: dressing up as Louis XIV for Halloween and owning multiple shirts of Napoleon). But I have never been to France, nor have I ever set foot outside the borders of the good old US of A.
That all changes today.
I am at last traveling to Paris, where I will be spending about seven weeks as a volunteer/intern for a humanitarian organization called Les petits frères des Pauvres (Little Brothers of the Poor). Basically, we will be visiting the elderly in Paris to be their friends. I have been specifically assigned to work with Alzheimer's patients, which will certainly be an experience.
Life doesn't always go as planned. Sure, I expect to be back in the United States at the end of August, but anything could happen...
So here are the five reasons I might not come home from Paris.
1) I might be able to eat wheat in France.
As most of you probably know, I am unfortunately, unhappily allergic to wheat. However...my friend Brooke who is also allergic to wheat reported that she had no problems eating bread products in France.
So on one of my first days there, I am going to go into a restaurant and order whatever the heck I want. Croque-monsieur? Pain-au-chocolat? Just a straight-up baguette? The world is my oyster. Or breadbasket.
So if it turns out that I don't get sick, if I can eat wheat in France...then I'm never coming home.
2) I might not be able to eat wheat in France.
There's also a chance I won't be able to eat wheat in France. That it will still make me sick after all.
But that is a problem. Because I am a very hungry person. And French people don't really do gluten-free. And French people eat a lot of bread.
So there's a chance that I will eat wheat in France anyway. That it will make me sick. That I will die. Or not eat it and then starve. And then I'm never coming home.
3) Art, or, The Coronation of Napoleon.
Before I left for college, my friend Carolyn gave me a little calendar with this painting of the coronation of Napoleon on top. When the year ran out, I cut off the picture and hung it along with my other posters in every single place I've stayed.
Also, you must know—I'm nuts about French art. And art in general. And Jacques-Louis David, who was the official painter of Louis XVI, the Revolution, and Napoleon (no small feat). On top of that, this painting is excellently well-done, and the size of a wall.
When I finally see this painting in person, I will be overcome. I will simply pass away on the floor. And then I'm never coming home.
4) Paris Syndrome
I was recounting this list of reasons I might not come home from Paris to my friend Nathan, when he told me about the weird and wonderful world of Paris Syndrome.
In a nutshell, Paris Syndrome is when a tourist is so overcome with the fact that they are actually in Paris that they actually become catatonic. (It mostly happens to Japanese tourists, but whatever.)
If you know me, you know that I can get pretty excited about things. And I'm pretty excited about Paris. So maybe I'll get to the City of Lights, freak out, become catatonic, end up in a hospital, and never come home.
5) Marriage, internship, and other options.
As every designer knows, odd numbers are more desirable than evens. So, of course, I can't stop my list at four reasons, and my friends started throwing suggestions at me.
"Camilla, what if you meet some great French guy and get married?" my friend Judith said.
"Get some interviews," my design professor said. "Pick some consultants out in town and interview for an internship while you are there. Be brave, all they can do is say no. And if they say yes...??"
"What if you get lost in the catacombs?" my friend Tate said. "Just wander around forever muttering about art and industrial design. Art students of the future will try to find you to seek your wisdom..."
And so that's it, friends. I'm going to Paris for seven weeks, but all sorts of stuff can happen, and if it does, I'm never coming home.