So it’s been an interesting couple of weeks for me. Being home after finishing grad school hasn’t been so bad. My “homesickness,” for France has subsided somewhat as I’ve come to realize I probably will not be able to realize my professional ambitions there, and that those old goals still mean a lot to me. Sometimes it’s not about changing course or changing scenery, but bringing a new set of eyes to old things.
I went back to DC for a brunch and I realized I still loved it. I’ve been reaching out to friends to help me with the job search there, and I have realized that at least professionally, it’s my home, and I hope that I will get a job there soon. There’s someone really special to me there too, though he is not available at the moment.
And there’s a sweet PhD program that can be done part time. SO excited. I still have a year or two before looking into more schooling, but I do accept that I might not leave DC once I start building a nest there, at least not for the foreseable future. It’s not Paris, but I’m more than ok with that!
I feel like the season of my life is changing a bit. I’m looking towards making a bit more permanent of a professional home, staying in the same location for a while, making friends I’ll see in person more than a few times a year (though I do have great far-flung friends I chat with online all the time), and hopefully finding someone to be in a real, long term relationship with. All the things with expiration dates in my life are getting chucked out, and I’m looking towards more sustainable goods in the future. Scary, but exciting.
I’ve had a bunch of weird dreams recently, and they can basically be summarized as me coming to peace with being pulled in many different directions and my gypsy soul and wanderlust, only to be asked to stay and commit in one direction before throwing myself to the four winds. And the truth is that all along, I was waiting for someone to come along and tell me they wanted be to stay.
And I think that’s what fate has done, and destiny, in both subtle and not so subtle ways. I really don’t know what the future holds, and I’m hesitant to make claims sometimes, but I actually want something that is within my reach, I hope, and I can see myself making a long term commitment. it feels like I’m turning into an adult. France might offer the best vacation prospects, and living in Paris might be an everyday adventure as well as annoyance, but so is life anywhere with the right set of eyes. More important, I think those every day moments might actually be better in Washington.
I don’t feel diminished by the tug of war sometimes at play in my heart between America and ailleurs, that is to say, la belle France. I think Jefferson probably felt the same thing. But my openness comes from my Americanness, adn I am American chronologically first and because of my birth, but more importantly because my values are much more Americna than French. I might have a bit of a yen for Europe and Old World customs and cutlure, but when it comes down to it, which it has, I am definitely American. It’s one of those things about myself I have to accept, like the fact I’m not quite game to fly across an ocean to a country where I don’t have the legal right to work without major visa clearance, a place to stay, or a real connection besides my admiration for the culture. France as a country is becoming more and more peripheral in the world economy, and it’s not my fault, I’d say it’s due to tehir own lack of openness.
It’s good to know France is there though, if ever I need it again. I am so blessed to have gone there to start with. What felt like a huge blow to my ego to work as an English teacher actually saved me and gave me pride in myself few other things ever could have.
So back to every day pleasures: I do think it’s about the friends you can call at a moments’ notice for coffee, the job you do (Very important), the special someone you might actually build a future with, and just knowing that your life is sustainable. My life in France, unless I was willing to leave my family behind, was not sustainable. I knew that- some even called it procrastination. And you know what? If I had been in France, I would have been seeing the wonders of the Old World, but I would have been missing out on some things I’ve been looking forward to in my own adult life- like seeing my career take off and developing more friendships and relationships. It will be nice to see things I’ve been working towards for a long time bear fruit, whereas France, while a lifetime labor of love to learn the language and hope to visit there, was never really Plan A. or any plan. And that was half the charm of it.
I will have to bring that joivre de vivre to the Etats Unis!
I’m in a good place now. My fondest hopes and dreams don’t seem impossible or silly or whimsical at all- they seem well suited to what I’ve been doing in preparation. My health has gotten better little by little as I’m not stress eating so much, I appreicate my family more, and I’m less driven by fear of missing out and thinking that not going to France will be a deathbed regret. I’m actually relieved.
And I’m kind of relieved to be becoming sort of a grown up too. Every stage of life has its joys, and while time is an arrow pointing in only one direction as we perceive it, each moment has its fullness.
So now, instead of making a bucketlist, I’m going to try to make my everyday life special and memorable. Maybe it won’t be a ten day backpacking trip across Europe, but a happy hour with friends or a weekend trip that keep a smile on my face. Maybe I’ll get to put up some posters and make a little home of my apartment, rather than not bothering to unpack my bags. Maybe commitment won’t seem such a scary thing, now that I know in my deepest heart I have wings.
I’ll just be a pilgrim everywhere I go, and a stranger no more in my own homeland.