We were walking back to our apartment, a few blocks up from the Moulin Rouge.
It was 9:30 at night in Paris and we had just spent the day wandering around and eating baguettes.
Our stomachs were full, and we were headed home.
But those neon cases, they called to us. Like a beacon, they cut through all the other glitz and glamour.
“Do you want some Chinese food?”, I asked.
I don’t eat Chinese in America. Why in the world would I be eating it in Paris?
Those lights…it’s those lights that make it look so appealing.
“Sure” Heather said.
And there we were, ordering takeaway Chinese food.
Twice, we almost left after it took so long to get someone to take our order.
And when we did order, they shoved way too much in, despite my too soft protestations.
Since it was done by weight, our little “snack” ended up costing us 18 euros.
I pulled out a 20 euro note and tried to explain we didn’t want that much, but to no avail.
I got two measly coins back, and we left.
During the one block walk back to our apartment, I was fuming.
18 euros on Chinese food?
What were we thinking?
And I really got mad when I took a bite and it was gross.
So I didn’t eat any more, and chalked it up to a bad decision.
18 euros on BAD Chinese food!
But I have a problem letting things go, and was still upset the next morning.
Until we walked out the door, and I noticed I didn’t have my wallet.
Going back inside, I checked the counter, where I had been putting it the entire trip.
Ok, how about my desk in the bedroom, where my pocket travel journal was?
The front pocket of my small daypack?
Ok, it’s got to be in my pants from last night?
And then, that’s when panic set in.
But hold on…the apartment is only 300 square feet.
So how hard can it be to find?
4 hours later, I found out the answer:
Pretty hard. Impossible, in fact.
I had looked in every single spot in the apartment. I had taken the bed apart, all the couch cushions off, and even checked the oven.
I had taken every single article of clothing out of both our bags and shook them out.
I had gone through both bags of trash, including sifting through the disgusting Chinese food from the night before (talk about adding insult to injury).
I had even walked down to the Chinese restaurant and asked if they had it using an awful French pronunciation (portefeuille is wallet, in case anyone was wondering).
And on the way back, I got down on my hands and knees in the gutter of the street to check under every car.
I went to the police station, filled out a police report, and tried to explain to them that I was looking for a paper wallet that had a picture of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on it.
They laughed, and in the most French way possible, said:
“You’ll never get it back here. Not in this part of the city.”
I should have been pissed. And for the first 4 hours, I was.
Upset, angry, and incredibly perplexed.
But then, we decided to take a walk. To get out of the apartment I had just turned upside down and inside out.
So we headed to Sacre Couer.
And I sat there, in a beautiful cathedral, high above Paris. And sat there. And sat there.
I just allowed my mind to be clear.
And after saying a few prayers (no, not all about finding my wallet!), I felt at peace.
For the first time the entire trip.
You see, before this, I had been a bit of a mess.
I was having a pretty major case of travel anxiety.
Seems weird, for someone who travels so much, right?
But it was true. I was flipping out on Heather for every little thing we were spending money on (Paris is quite hard to be frugal in) and had been stressing about the next parts of our trip.
Yes, the trip was designed to be unplanned, and I thought that would be easier.
But thinking about what was next was making me not be able to enjoy the present.
And worrying about every little Euro was driving me insane.
And then, I lost my wallet. 200 Euros in cash, plus all my credit cards, bank cards, my license, etc.
And what did I realize?
That it wasn’t that big of a deal.
I could call up and cancel my credit cards and ATM card and have them send replacements. I’d get a new license when I went home.
And 200 Euros, well, sure, no one likes to lose money, but what could I do about it?
So if losing my wallet, which was a much bigger deal than all the other little things that I had been worrying and freaking out about for the past 4 days, could be solved so easily, then so could everything else.
And Heather, who easily could have been upset with me for not only ruining our trip to Versailles that day but also for losing the cash, was right there beside me, sifting through the disgusting Chinese food.
What more could I ask for?
If it took me losing my wallet to relax and turn this 2 month trek through Europe in to what it is supposed to be, then so be it.
And if you’re sitting there waiting for a storybook ending, sorry, this isn’t Hollywood.
I never did find that wallet, and that’ll be the last time I eat Chinese food in Paris.
Have you ever had a serious case of travel anxiety and how did you deal with it (hopefully not by losing your wallet)?
What’s the worst thing that’s happened to you while traveling, and how did it affect your outlook? Let us know in the comments below!
(moulin rouge image courtesy of chrissy575)