Since coming home from Paris, the first question I get whenever I see someone is of course an excited, “How was Paris?!” I love it; I love that people are interested. The second question is often, “When are you going to New York?”
December 19 would have been my answer had I not tossed my ticket. December 19 was the day I was originally scheduled to fly into Toronto from Europe and immediately board a bus to New York for as long as my bank account could justify me being there. Actually, even though I returned from Europe earlier than planned, I thought I was going to board that bus anyway. But as December 19 came closer, the amount of time I was contemplating spending in the city dwindled more and more. I thought about going for the holidays, since that’s where I would have spent Christmas and New Year’s had I remained abroad. My best friend would have come down. The holidays shortened to a pre-Christmas weekend. A couple girlfriends had expressed interest in going. A weekend diminished to a day. I would have gone solo, and either visited some of my favourite spots or checked to see if anyone I’ve met while travelling who lives there was free. With a couple weeks to go until departure and still no motivation to search for a return ticket, I realized I was scrapping New York altogether. I knew my only interest in going was to avoid wasting the non-refundable ticket there, and I didn’t think that was good enough reason to force myself away from home. I had just spent a day in New York for my birthday at the end of November anyway, so it wasn’t like it had been long since I last visited.
Frankly, I wondered when this would happen. I wondered how much travel it would take me to tire of it. I know how I am. I bore easily and I crave novelty. That’s why I fell in love with travel in the first place. New cities are, well, novel. But when you begin losing count of the number of planes you’ve been on in a year, boarding them loses its thrill. Surely, once I’ve had enough space from Paris, my travel bug will be back. Like I said, I get restless. As for right now, however, I’d give up a boarding pass to anywhere for Toronto. As I expected would happen eventually, my interest in travel has begun to lower due to overexposure, as did my interest in clubbing years ago.
When I was 15, I couldn’t imagine not wanting to dance at clubs until I was blinded by the fucking light. After my first time clubbing (Palazzo, May 2–4 weekend, 2005 #holycrap #thatwasoverNINEyearsagonow #thatbasicallymakesmeaveteran #vomitinmymouth), I wanted to club every night for the rest of my life. I remember pacing the steps outside Palazzo at the end of the night with both hands in my hair, blown away by certainty that I had found what was going to save me. I felt like someone had removed me from my life and dropped me into another world. Clubbing was my liberation, and I would take as many hits as I could get. People tried to tell me I’d get sick of it as I got older, but I refused to believe them. Clearly, they weren’t as diehard as I was.
Although by 17 I much preferred to flirt with guys in Tim Hortons parking lots than go to all-ages events, I was back to clubbing as soon as I secured a fake at 18 (bless my beautiful older cousin). I was successfully pretending to be three years older than I was (I think it was my glasses that helped me pull it off, but guys assure me it was my vagina), and having the time of my fucking life. I thought I could dance to the point of near-crippled feet until the end of time, because how could that ever be anything but energizing?
And then it happened: I got bored. I got bored of the heels and the catcalls. I got bored of the girls whining about non-existent guest lists and the boys I knew only by strobe light. I got bored of the countdowns to nothing and the fist pumps and the euro. I turned 19 at a club out of principle, but that was my exit point. Suddenly, I was laughing at my past certainty that clubbing would always be my salvation. By the time I was 20, I felt like I had dreamed my clubbing days, and it had only been two summers since the one I spent at Hotel. I remember being at a restaurant with my then manager and coworkers for a team-building event, right down the street from where Hotel once stood. When I nostalgically mentioned that my favourite club used to be a three-minute walk away, they were stunned.
“You clubbed?” my bitch of a manager asked me in shock.
“Yeah!” I beamed.
“I can’t picture it,” she responded bluntly.
I swear to God I almost cried right at the fucking table. I already knew that I had let my job turn me into a completely different person, but she had just proven it. Worse, I didn’t know who was more surprised: my manager or myself. I hardly believed my own words as I spoke them, and I was there. I was at the clubs. I lived the nightlife.
It would be years more before I would step into a club again, because I just didn’t want to. It wasn’t until I launched The Happiness Experiment in early 2013, when “say yes to social invites” became a life rule, that I agreed to a night out at a club in Niagara. Out of pure dread, I sobbed leading up to it and I made sure to get April-in-Canada-feels-like-July-in-Mexico drunk before I left the hotel that evening, but I’m so glad I went. That night changed my life – not because I was clubbing again, but because it gave me a long overdue reminder of who I was.
Coincidently, I bumped into a guy from my Hotel days that night. It had been five years since the summer he and I used to cross paths at our club every Friday; but, as he smiled at me for the first time since I was a teenager, he told me I hadn’t changed a bit. (Yeah, you fucking bet I left with him.)
So it wasn’t clubbing that had saved me all those years ago. It was me. And it would be me again.
Considering all of this as I sit here at home instead of in New York, I am not sad that travel is falling down my priority list as I was when clubbing did. It is the perspective that both of them gave me on myself and my life that are important. So, when people ask me how Paris was, they’re unknowingly asking a very loaded question. Paris taught me a lot. Recently, though, one of my friends was able to answer the question before I could even force a smile and tell her it was beautiful (my standard answer, because it’s the truth and because it puts the focus on the city instead of on me).
“I feel like France was a lot for you,” she said.
“France was a lot for me,” I breathed a sigh of relief.
Someone got it.
About the Author
Maria Bellissimo was the protagonist of a sad, boring life until she turned her story into a happiness experiment. She chronicles her search for happiness on her supremely awesome and appropriately named blog, The Happiness Experiment, which she hopes will inspire others to launch their own happiness experiments. Follow her adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.