It was already the third day in Paris, but I’d seen only three places: my hotel room, the internet cafe, and the classroom. The point of our trip was to learn as we traveled, but that particular week my head had been buried in more books than city maps. Two projects were looming, hundreds of dates needed memorizing, and my dad and sister were just a few hours from arriving for a visit. I remember sulking on the way to class that morning, passing by pastry shops and crepe stands as I walked through autumn’s brisk air.
My entire life I’d followed the rules. Brush your teeth twice a day. Make the bed. Don’t be late. Park in that lot. Wear a helmet. I’d never regretted my decisions to follow the rules until that morning, in a tiny classroom tucked away from Paris’ streets, learning everything important but nothing memorable.
And so I walked out. I turned in the test early, painted a “I HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM NOW” look on my face, then bolted. When I got outside that classroom door, I looked back as if anticipating a professor to chase me down the narrow streets. But, no one came. I picked up a quick pace, giggling to myself as I ran towards the metro. Still, no one followed. I felt like a rebel until I made it to the Picasso Museum–my hooky destination of choice. It wasn’t a quaint flea market or the grand Eiffel Tower–but it was a quiet escape from the itinerary, the schedule, the rules.
You know what? I don’t remember what was on that test, or what grade I got. I don’t think any of my professors ever asked where I went. But, I remember that day by myself and Picasso more than many of the other days spent in Europe. Today, break the rules. Sometimes it’s the best way to play.