For the four years I lived in Arizona, I spent every work day giggling my buns off with the one and only “Nicole Fierce.” I’m not even sure I can put into words all the ways this chick has enriched my life and just been there for me. In the span of those four years, we supported each other through a couple engagements, messy break ups, near-backyard weddings, divorces, issues with kids, and multiple rounds of lay offs. Nicky stood in as the witness for my wedding to the Sarge and even had the forethought to buy me a bouquet – and as a result, made lilies my favorite flower. She can have me doubled over in laughter, legs desperately crossed in an attempt not to pee myself with just a simple look or grunt. We’re those obnoxious friends with our own language and a trillion inside jokes that are probably not even that funny but we find hysterical.
When she informed me she would be touring Europe with the Daughters of the American Revolution as well as wearing a homemade American flag dress purchased at Cracker Barrel, I knew there was no way I was going to miss out. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to witness the flag dress’ debut at the D-Day parade in Normandy, but I was able to fly into Paris for a day and play tourist with Nicky and her mom. I took an early morning flight out of Heathrow, landing at Orly airport at 9am. Since I don’t have an international cell phone, I told Nicky I’d just find her hotel and meet her there as soon as I could. So I hopped on a bus, got off somewhere *close* to where I thought her hotel was and started walking. Unfortunately, I got a bit disoriented (read: had no idea where I was) and did a few circles before finding the street I was looking for. Apparently, there was some mix up in my conversion of kilometers to miles and after 45 minutes of walking in 90 degrees plus humidity, I had to tap out and get in a cab. Strike one.
Once I got to the hotel, I found out the Daughters (of DAR, if you’re savvy) hadn’t arrived yet so I left a note saying I’d be back around noon and went to grab some lunch. Since it was a Sunday, nothing was really open save a little bagel shop on the corner. I’d hoarded my airplane food because I’m related to my mom and have to eat every hour or I’ll get a hangry low blood sugar attack. So I polished off my goodies and a bagel and decided to tour Jardin du Luxembourg. It was really gorgeous and I found a nice seat in the sunshine while I took a few photos. After a couple returns to the hotel, I finally found Nicky standing outside and we were off.
Her mom had arranged to meet up with a former coworker, Maia, who actually lived in Paris. So we basically got a private tour of the city from a local which was amazing. During college, I spent a month in Paris studying Art History so I’d already seen the major tourist attractions. This visit was completely different as Maia showed us some of her favorite spots. The Arab World Institute was one of my favorite spots and Maia explained how the windows were made up of camera apertures that adjusted themselves based on the amount of sunlight coming in. The result was this incredible glass wall of texture.
We trekked on towards Notre Dame and took a few obligatory pictures with gargoyles standing guard in the background. As usual, Nicky was a hot mess and had me dying laughing. We apparently picked a hot spot for photos as we kept ending up with random tourists in our shots so Nicky just went with it.
I should also mention that Nicky is an avid reader and a particular fan of teen literature. When we met, she was deep into her Harry Potter obsession and then the Twilight books came out. Despite my protests, she forced me to read the entire series as she was incapable of talking about anything else for several months. Luckily, I’m a fast reader, unlike our buddy Fred who she forced to listen to the audiotapes in order to sit with us at lunch. She can be a bit of a bully at times. Anyway, being a literature lover, we stopped in at this awesome little bookstore called Shakespeare and Company that boasts famous visitors including Ernest Hemmingway, among others. The place was packed and I could have spent hours looking at all their books if not for the heat and body odor trapped within the very small space.
By this time, we were all pretty hungry so Maia took us on a safari to one of her favorite, authentic French restaurants. She patiently translated the entire menu for us, offering up suggestions on what to order for the best experience. While no one ordered any snails or frog lets, Maia did get an appetizer of hard boiled eggs covered in mayonnaise. While this may sound gross, it was actually amazingly delicious. The egg yolks were almost orange (always a good sign) and the mayonnaise was more of a dijon mustard – light yellow in color – with a hint of vinegar. She told us it’s simple to make at home so I may attempt it at some point because it was so good. I ordered beef cheeks which is now my favorite nickname and was also a very tender meat. It came almost like a pot roast with a thick, gravy-like sauce, veggies, and noodles. Tasty.
We walked off our dinner through the streets of Paris, taking pictures here and there of some of the beautiful buildings as well as Nicky just being herself. After a quick treat of Nutella crepes, we hired a cab to take us back to the hotel. Our cab driver was insane, to put it mildly. He rolled down all the windows and blasted everything from Madonna to the Beach Boys while making a sunglass-wearing teddy bear dance in his lap. Nicky recorded it, as she tends to do, while I laughed hysterically and her mom gripped the front seat for dear life. It was memorable.
After snuggling like three little piggies in a blanket (me, Nicky and her mom shared a bed), we packed up the next morning and took our time getting to the airport. We had a nice omelette breakfast with fresh squeezed orange juice and then attempted to navigate the metro. We made another pit stop for some French pastries and last minute pictures before catching our flight to London. Nicky and her mom were off to Scotland while it was back to the glamorous mom life for me. Though it was short, it was the perfect trip and I had so much fun just picking up where we left off. Nicky and Bev, thank you so much for letting me in on your great European adventure. Your generosity is unparalleled and there is never a shortage of fun and laughter with you two. We are ready to host you in England once the jet lag has worn off from this last adventure. Love you both dearly!