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Paris after Scotland

I find it oddly empowering when people ask the hard questions.  I don't know if that's because it means people finally believe me when I tell my story, or if I'm proud of myself for coming so far as to be able to respond with intelligence and patience rather than anger and frustration.  There's no defensive attitude anymore, and at one time that was the dominant trait when asked about my time in Scotland.  Honestly, I've come a long way.

KJ asked:
"Were you fearful when you left the US and traveled to Paris after going through such hell in Scotland? That sounds risky to me but everyone is different."

Another really GREAT question. Yes, I was more than just a little fearful when I went to Paris, but I also knew I wasn't going alone. I went with a dear and trusted friend. Still I looked over my shoulder constantly and peeked around every corner. I didn't trust anyone else, especially strangers, and lurked instead of walked. I was truly terrified, but I also was raised to "get back on the horse" and knew I couldn't pass up quite possibly the only chance I'd ever have to see Paris, a place I'd wanted to see all my life. I was also of the mindset that I needed to do whatever I could in order to keep myself alive the first year after my return. Part of me didn't care if I survived the trip, part of me was afraid I would.

When I returned from Scotland I started saving mementos from things I did and places I visited to remind myself when things were hard that life had sometimes been good to me. Many people do this.
Most for different reasons. But when my shadow box was done, people loved it. All the things I did, all the places I went, all the adventures I had, the letters I received, the gifts I was given - a little piece of each is inside this shadowbox. It goes with me, carefully wrapped, each time I move. It is one of my most precious physical possessions. Each piece tells a story, most of which the world will never know. It's vitally important, and on certain days it's been the only reminder I had that life was still worth living.

That partial inability to care if I lived or died was helpful when, on the last day of my travels to Paris, I found myself staying alone in a B&B in London.  I was only an 8 hour train ride from my former Prison. It had been less than a year since I had escaped back to Los Angeles.  I was terrified I'd be found.

While most people would take a full 24 hours alone in London to be something of an adventure, I stayed impossibly close to the B&B, having my breakfast in their downstairs restaurant rather than going out.  I read a book in my room rather than exploring the High Street.  When finally it was time to go to the airport I realized how much of a fabulous opportunity I was missing out on simply because of fear.  I'd never let my fear rule my life before that, why would I start all of a sudden?   I donned my brand new coat I got while in Paris only 2 days before, bundled up in my scarf and new gloves, and headed for the train.  I had enough time left ... I thought.  So, rather than heading straight to the airport from Paddington Station, I headed straight for the trains in the opposite direction.  Without ever having navigated public transportation in my entire life, I managed to navigate the London tube.  I went directly to the Tower Bridge.  I walked halfway across before looking at my watch once more and heading directly back to the train.  From there I went to the airport and went home.  But I went home with a sense of pride.  I didn't let my fear beat me into submission the way he had done for so long.  I was done letting him run or ruin my life.  I finally proved it to myself... I was strong enough to survive.  That didn't stop me from wearing a hat and scarf pulled up high at the airport, completely terrified beyond reason that he would show up at the busiest airport in the world.

The tickets to Paris are quite prominent in that shadowbox, as is my flight ticket home from London that day.

So is the return ticket to Scotland that I never used.
Look closely... you might just see it.

Paris, March 2012

London, March 2012

The "Paris" Coat as it is today.

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