full stried ahead
christopher ryan stried
Greatest invitation to love is to love first
Best Day of My Life June 2nd, 2009

Posted 6/19/09

It was the most fascinating trip I had ever been on in my life. It was my first ever trip outside of North America of course. It started in London, I did go see Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and Downing Street. LOL, thats it for London, and of course thats when I laid eyes on the woman of my dreams.

Then it was off to Paris - the city of Love. When we first got there, I was wide-eyed like you couldn't believe. Not to editorialize already, but there is no comparison between Paris and London. The limestone walls all at the same height, Arc De Triumph with the roundabout was something to behold, the buildings, the statues, and of course the Eiffel Tower. We were in Paris for only two nights including the one we just traveled there. So a group and I that I had gotten friendly with on the Ferry Ride across the English Channel decided we would go up the Eiffel Tower tonight so it would free up the day tomorrow. I had waited to see if the woman who I already had my eye on was going to go up as well, and in a brief pass by she excitedly said they were coming back to Paris in a few weeks. So the group and I went up there... took the countless number of steps up to the second level and then took the elevator up to the top. I knew at the time it wouldnt be best for photos at night, but best for you to be up there for yourself. Lines, lines, and lines even at this late hour. I was with my group still at the top, however I had noticed I was at a juncture in the line where I could be going down the elevators instead of looping around the top of the tower at the end of the line. And instead of waiting with them, I decided to take the easier, wiser, and more efficient way of getting down the tower by cutting the line. Ridicule me all you want, but that is who I am. I had to be my usual leader independent self, and went down the path closer to the elevators, instead of waiting with the group. Two followers, however, not apart of the group joined me
:). Thankfully as I was taken down to the 2nd level, I had noticed familiar faces with our tour, and they were so kind to take me back to our hotel.

The next day I had everything laid out on the map I wanted to see, just no one who shared the same itinerary to see it with. I had it all planned out - the itinerary was to go from the Perfumery with the entire tour then travel on the Metro to Arc De Triumph, then from there walk down the famous Champs Elysees, see Sarkozy and Carla Bruni's mansion at the end of the avenue, go down to see Napolean's Tomb in Invalides, and then back up across the river to the Louvre which happened to be closed on the day we were there (couldve made it on our travel day), and then back to our meeting point where the bus was scheduled to pick us up at Orsey De Musee. The night before my roomie and I were going through the women on the tour, we had talked about the one that was with us up on the Eiffel Tower, but I asked him about the one other brunette if he knew her name, and he wasn’t even aware of such a person and didn’t know who I was referring to, but I assured him, that was the one I wanted to be with and was waiting for my chance to sit with her on the coach.

The next day that chance came about. As soon as I got on the bus, I immediately saw where she was, and it worked out so that I was able to sit next to a brother and sister from Purdue who I had become most acquainted with since the tour started, and the woman of my dreams was seated directly in front of me. I started with the usual small talk, we talked about the traffic, made a comment how awesome it was how our huge tour bus went in first in the roundabout full speed ahead and we circled the roundabout, also mentioned how I couldnt believe the Louvre was closed and I told her I still thought we couldve made it the day before, and told her I was interested in seeing Carla Bruni and she made the funniest line that I should jump the walls to see her as if she had known me and my personality already. I showed her my itinerary and asked her if she would like to see Paris with me, she smiled and then nodded, and the rest was history from there.

After smelling all the perfume in the perfumery, I started to get antsy and wanted to get going to see the sights. 5 of us finally left for the metro en route to Arc De Triumph. I was already nervous, here I am, first time in Paris, and it turns out I may be the only one that knows where I am going. We got to Arc De Triumph after one stop on the metro. We got out, and wow there it was. Knowing my personality, I really did want to run across the roundabout, but after pictures we took the underground tunnel to the other side underneath the Arc. We took more photographs, and then it was off to Champs Elysees. We parted ways with the couple, and so it was just me with the brunette and her friend. We were walking along going in the most famous stores in the world looking for a red scarf, and I then told them all I needed to do was find a postcard to write to my Nana, their response was awwwwwww.  They helped me pick one out, whichever one she selected was going to be the one I would use, and we took a break, and I wrote it out, already in a daze I had no idea what to write, I put something down, I wrote something like Paris is simply beautiful and I am writing to you from Champs Elysses - that’s how I spelled it. And then we started walking, and I let her read the card that I had written and she couldn’t believe I didn’t even write Dear Nana on it, so I did, she started to poke fun at my skills as a writer with what I put, and then finally she was able to get my name as it was on the bottom of the postcard stating Christopher. "Christopher... can i call you Christopher?" The way it made me feel when she said it for the first time with her angelic accent and innocently asked me if she could call me Christopher as if I would be doing her a favour was all it took for me to know I was in love and this was the woman for me.  Plus my mother always hated Chris, but liked Christopher, so there'd be battles with teachers and classmates who thought it would be more adult of me to be referred by Chris which I didn’t mind but I always was inclined to stick with Christopher. She then said her name was Stephanie and her friend’s name was Sarah. We were officially introduced as I had always been someone to get to know the person before their name.

We then proceeded onward grocery shopping for a snack which I refrained from buying anything since I had pop tarts in my fanny pack which I kept in front under my shirt to heed warnings of pick-pocketing and to which Stephanie commented it made it look like I had a pot belly, little did she know i actually was concealing one. She also inferred a question if I liked the pop tarts raw? Which made me bubble over. They purchased some kind of bread, a salad and a fork to eat it with, they offered me to try the bread that wasn’t actually bread which I resisted at first and then after trying it wished I had resisted altogether. I wasn’t able to eat the pop tarts either. We walked down to the end of Champs Elysees to see President Sarkozy’s mansion and maybe even get a glimpse of Carla Bruni. The walls were too high and there was no way around, there was no need to climb anymore either, Stephanie needed to use the bathroom which she did in an outhouse with piss all over the floor while Sarah and I waited outside. I then commented how I wish Carla Bruni was our first lady because ours was a monster, Sarah began telling me about Kevin Rudd and their political system. She asked if I heard of Melbourne, and I hadn’t, she began telling me about the restaurants and stores there, they had a McDonalds but not a Burger King but basically the same thing, had a Fridays, a Blockbuster, she also told me about their radio stations including The Fox, and then said they didn’t watch much TV but said Stephanie’s favourite show was Neighbours. I told them I didn’t watch much TV either but mentioned House just to say something. I asked if they had an Australian Outback and to my surprise they shockingly did not. Their food isn’t the greatest but the bloomin onion is what its known for. Sarah also had an inclination to call every other passerby creepy which I nor Stephanie joined in on as it went in one ear and out of the other and I dismissed it as typical American generational y and surprised it had reached even Australia. Sarah was anxious to see a celebrity as well and remarked how the French have such smooth skin. We were on our way to Napolean's Tomb in Invalides which I was able to see on the map but not in real life, I had stopped a gentleman to see if he knew where it was, he said he didn’t know and then asked Stephanie if she knew where it was who pointed at me and said im with him. Although I didn’t know where I was going since I was already in cloud nine, neither one of them could have been in better hands as when it came time to cross busy roundabout roads, if we were to get hit by a car I always made sure I would be the first one to get hit. In one instance however when cars kept coming for a time, I said we need to cross eventually and then after I had navigated across, it did actually free up for them. Napolean’s Tomb turned out being the gold dome that had been glaring at me the entire time, and we crossed an unreal breathtaking bridge, with beautiful water where I thought itd be time for a photograph, Sarah thankfully took it after a couple of attempts as my camera would intermittently flash twice as Stephanie fancifully joined me. 

Once we got to Napolean's Tomb in Invalides I thought it would be outside but it turned out it was inside which you had to pay to get in to see. After learning the cost I no longer wanted to see it, but they perhaps thought I still did and offered to wait while I went, I declined and they wanted to buy waters in at which they offered and bought me one. We were now on our way to the outside of the Louvre, after buying me the water I began noticing Stephanie’s purse on how hefty it was and made a couple of comments and that was when I realized it was more like a suitcase with bricks inside after holding it briefly. I couldn’t believe after all this time and all the walking we had done she was being burdened by this and I offered to carry it for her which I didn’t mind at all and thankfully was able to oblige. Overall I was weak and struggling with it myself even perhaps more than she was but couldn’t let her carry it anymore. We were going to make sure to cross the infamous “Sex and the City” bridge on our way to the Louvre, which I referenced Sarah Jessica Parker had a horse face which got a laugh and Stephanie said unlike me who was cute. I had always known I was handsome and self confident enough not to need any compliments but it was surprisingly refreshing.  She then asked how tall I was and I said close to 6 ‘2 unlike poor Sarkozy who had to wear platforms to which she said tall was good :) We then proceeded to talk about other miscellaneous subjects like her favourite colour being red, which I said was now my favourite color too. They began to ask how old I was, to which I had them guess a little until they arrived at 22 to which Stephanie said was her age as well while Sarah was a year older, and then Sarah remarked how much older the tour seemed and still was like high school. I wasnt aware of the tour enough to make a call on them myself. They asked what my horoscope sign was and told them I didn’t know. They asked when my birthday was and I said October 1st and they said I was a Libra and Stephanie said she was Sagittarius in early December. I asked her and her friend where they met or how long they’ve known each other and they playfully and emphatically dismissed the question that they were sisters. I was gullible enough to believe them and didn’t have the wherewithal to question further even though they are not. We talked about employment, Stephanie said she worked in investment banking which I was taken aback by and extremely impressed with wanting to pick her brain about it more at a later time while staying focused as I told them I was unemployed but was a double major of Mass Communications and Political Science and told them about a possible producer position for a morning TV show I interviewed with before touring. Told them it was the best time to travel after college and before I had a job. All of this convo was taking place of course while walking the streets of Paris still carrying her purse on my shoulder getting in touch with my feminine side. It was at this juncture when Stephanie unbeknowingly fell back behind me to steal a photograph of me with it on. I had glimpsed to see where she was and noticed. I was more than flattered in how much interest she was showing in me and she then jumped on my shoulders. I took a photograph of the parliamentary building for whatever reason maybe because I like politics I guess and then she did too :). I was taking her in more than she would know, basking in how she was making me feel being selfish without reciprocating.  In my unintentional subconscious nature i almost wanted her to feel i was somewhat disinterested because she just didn’t know how much I was gonna give back to her from how I was feeling from her, I didn’t know how much myself either but knew I would. 

We walked across the ‘Sex and the City’ bridge which wasn’t as spectacular as the hype, and then made it to outside of the Louvre where we sat and took more photographs, we observed ring rollers who act like they found a ring on the ground and give it you for money. Thinking back I actually wish I had bought one. We rested by a fountain where they sat on eachother’s laps, I had a few thoughts of what that reminded me of but didn’t share. After the Louvre, we pondered if we should see the Notre Dame Cathedral but thought it was risky and we would miss the bus pick up time at Orsey De Musee. They mentioned they would see it when they would return within the month. It turned out bus pick up was much later than I thought, I didn’t want to be in the sun as we waited, so we went where there was shade, she couldn’t believe I didn’t like the sun as she loved it. It wasn’t so much I didn’t like it, it was that I was being torched and didn’t even think to apply the sunscreen I had in my fanny pack. We found shade but unfortunately no comfortable place to sit, the only spot to sit was on the ground which I was not gonna do, Sarah was in a dress and didn’t think twice nor did Stephanie. I also needed to use the restroom, across the street we saw construction workers, and Stephanie told me to go ask them if I could go inside, and so I did and they said no. I held it in as my other option was to pay entrance fare in a nearby museum just to use the restroom. I no longer wanted to stand nor lean nor did I want to be in the sun, but eventually decided itd be better to sit and fry while letting my legs dangle from a platform then to stand so I went over to my fellow American and 3rd President’s statue Thomas Jefferson to sit. I thought it was a nice gesture of Paris to have him there and was kind of nice to be with an American even though it was a statue.  After seeing me sit there looking pathetic, they then came over to join me, to which Stephanie gave me another angelic accented playful poke calling me a loser flattering me again making me want to become the biggest loser for her as they sat up to join me so I wouldn’t be lonely even though I wasn’t feeling that way at all. I had an Asian man take a couple of photographs of us. We kept waiting and waiting for the bus to come, I thought it was sooner but actually was when Sarah thought it would be. I even walked all the way back to the other end of the sidewalk to see if I could spot the bus coming but to no avail. As tour guide I had to assure our return to the hotel, I began asking every bus driver parked where the Contiki bus was or where it would be and they hadn’t had a clue to what that was. At one juncture when I was talking with one driver, I turned back to them with news but they had disappeared in a playful attempt to ditch me since I was such a loser. Stephanie was so innocent, free and playful while I was so restrained and reserved looking to be liberated. And then as we waited, more standing and leaning by me and in a demonstration of bravado to show she enjoyed the sun and it didnt bother her, Stephanie on a slab of concrete separating the sidewalk from the bank of the river, laid on her back cooking herself or perhaps sun tanning while her friend was looking away onward at the museum to my back, perhaps a moment of privacy as Stephanie’s pores on her skin were wide open as if they were inviting me in as we were gazing at each other entertaining my first thoughts to kiss her, but since my spontaneity was completely shot thinking I didn’t want to be too forward and what a first day on the tour this was and didn’t want to blow it, little did I know I was blowing it even more by not attempting to kiss her and I regretfully refrained leaning paralyzed while feelings inside of me were fluttering relentlessly for her. The bus finally came, my tour guide duties were complete, we were the only ones waiting for it on the tour and one other. Stephanie and Sarah sat in the back napping as I sat a row in front of them on our way back. Best Day of my Life

In a card I wrote to her in Munich, I told her regardless of what transpires on the rest of the tour, I will always think back fondly of our time together in Paris, the City of Love, and I meant it. 

I love her just as much as I did then as I do now twelve years later and counting. She knows me better than anyone else because she knows how I am for her. I am tired and will continue to be tired until I am with her.

-Christopher 6/2/21

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