I’m not sure if it was the jet lag or blogging till 3 AM, but we slept ’til 1PM no problem. Vivien and Jessie woke us with a 20 egg omelette, pain au chocolat, and tea.
Then we were off again. Paris has this strange way of sneaking up on you. You step out of the metro, turn a couple corners, and BAM…you’re right beside a massive 853 year old cathedral.
All I could think of was Quasimodo hanging out in the bell tower with his gargoyle friends
The Eiffel Tower was beautiful and all, but something about Notre Dame really struck us. Afterwords, we all admitted to being on the verge of tears (besides Justin, of course *hard eye roll*). The architecture is incredible, but the building itself leaves you awestruck in some other, abstract way that is difficult to put into words.
We did a little more strolling and took an obscene amount of pictures. Scarlet and I tried to sing “God Help the Outcasts” but I kept messing up the lyrics. To be fair, I haven’t sung that song in at least ten years. But I mess up the lyrics of every song ever, so it probably doesn’t matter. Continuing on, Vivien brought us to Pont des Arts and…
and then we were off to my first tricking session ever. Yeah, no, I didn’t trick. My level of athleticism is still basically 0, though the group has made me promise to try to learn to cartwheel by the end of this adventure. (I’ve literally never done a cartwheel in my life.) Vivien taught a class while Melissa (who will from here on out be referred to as “Basch” because I am the only person who doesn’t call her that in this group), Scarlet, Gaby, Tricia, and Justin trained.
As they discussed Hooked, (the largest gathering in the world, which we will be attending this weekend) I heard in their voices the same excitement I feel the day before a festival. Watching them stretching out and practicing their tricks, laughing and tumbling, I began to think about the subculture of it all. It’s really a crazy thing, the little cliques we find ourselves in through the paths we take in life. Comparing this world to that of Dead heads and hippies, whom I have found myself a part of, seems a stretch, but really isn’t at all. We go to festivals and shows, they go to gatherings and sessions. We dance and sing, they flip and tumble. We sleep in tents in fields across the country, they sleep on the floors of gyms across the world.
One major difference being that our subculture was started long ago. Somehow we still bask in the glow of a fire lit long before our time. Tricking, however, is a relatively new sport. While it started in the 90’s from sport karate, the first gathering was a mere 13 years ago. New tricks are still being invented and there are trickers who are the only human on the planet that can do a specific trick. Gatherings have spread across the world to almost every continent (well, except for Antartica, probably, Gaby and Scarlet estimate). The American tricking tour this summer included events in Connecticut, Ohio, Colorado, California, and New York. Trickers came from across the world to attend these events, just as the group I am currently traveling with is doing now.
The point being, I am grateful and excited to unlock the intricacies of this subculture that my new friends have so graciously allowed me to experience. I’ve traded my tapestries in for tricking mats, for now, anyway. I am entering as a cautious observer, but have already been encouraged to participate. We’ll see. Balance and strength are not my strong suit.
We left the gym, each of them giddy from the high of their session, me riding their wave. As we walked down the metro, Gaby calling out “venez toutes mes poutes!” (come all my bitches!) and motioning toward us, I couldn’t hold back my smile or my gratitude for the adventure which lays before me.
Just then, some upstanding young gentleman leaned forward…and vomited all over the metro floor.
C’est une belle vie.
One last comment: I think true friendship in any culture begins when someone asks you if you can smell the armpits of their shirt to see if they can wear it again. So, I think I’m officially in.