So Paris has been magical as usual- but these days it’s more like an enchanted forest where I have to prove my mettle rather than a fairyland or dare I say, Never Neverland.
The difficulties I have faced, which have had more to do with life and becoming an adult than Paris or France itself when it comes down to it, have made me doubt my motivations for coming at times. I have felt homesick and missed the support of my friends and family more than I ever have before. I have totally upturned the rationalizations I made about coming to life in Paris (at virtually any cost), and for me, I’ve realized that I can’t fool time, or my own truth. Every elf hears their song at some point, yes?
You can’t escape your life, or your self. Travel doesn’t make your problems go away, it makes them come back to you with a vengeance.
With possibly greater urgency than I would have otherwise felt, I want to get my life together, organize and decorate my apartment, like my job, find someone to build a home with, and feel like one day it will be me with the baby bump and the adorable children behind a poussette. It’s really weird to feel that way, and though I don’t want that for a long time yet and there’s a lot of growing and exploring to do, I do feel like I have lived my 25 and a half years on this earth pretty fully and fully earned the fact that I know myself.
I know that I am always going to grow and change and be a little restless, and I don’t think my wanderlust will ever really go away until love and life around me grows and changes with such sweet and utter transcience. I don’t htink much can beat the feeling of new discovery you can get from travel, but my eyes are just feeling weary and the creation of my own, real, this is it sort of life, seems just as urgent and exciting. It’s a kind of lust, and when I follow my wanderlust, it just seems to show me that travelling alone can be the same old routine just like anything else. In some ways, I wanted to go back to an earlier time in my life- a younger time- which, just as I started to appreciate, I caught a ticket on the “fast track” to adult life. Because childlike wonder nad wandering just seemed a little boring.
I feel weird about growing up. THe shift is very much internal and destabilizing. It’s not so much that I want to be married and preggers now as that I want to have that sense of creating something of value. And trying to do this is going to be much more vital and exciting to me than just seeing new sites and ways of life. Travel is a form of self-discovery, and what I discover right now is a new urge I havent’ felt before.
I realized, due to a series of dramatic events, just how much I want to have a child, and that, if one came along unexpectedly at this point in my life, there’s very little doubt in my mind I would raise my child myself. Career, travel, going out, everything else would be secondary to that. That being said, I don’t really want that to be the case, and I am taking active measures to prevent it! But that really made me realize that, like it or not, I am for the most part, an adult.
I was dating this awesome guy until today. I knew when I met him he was nice, and I was impressed by his generosity of spirit and maturity, but beyond that I didn’t feel much of a spark. We got along well together, and I liked the attention. We really only saw each other like three times. But in those fairly long dates, I got a chance to really observe him, and get to know him. Not that I claim to be an expert. He’s a great guy, I just, didn’t feel passionate. And I didn’t like how he smelled when he was sweaty. Now, one might say everybody smells bad when they sweat and it’s true. But his pheromones weren’t working for me. I broke up with him today, which doesn’t even feel like the right word ebcause we weren’t in a relationship but he treated it like we were. I was so tempted to use him as my social and emotional crutch. But I could feel myself just giving into things and going with the flow even though I really wasn’t feeling it. In terms of emotional maturity and family values, he’s awesome but he’s just not for me. He pleasded with me to give it more time, and I really didn’t know why he seemed so upset but maybe that’s because my heart is made of stone. I felt so bad hurting him, it has drained me for the day. And probably for tomorrow as well. But as a person, I just didn’t feel the chemistry or passion. Maybe I’m young and I should have just snatched up a decent guy while I had one, or given it more time. Maybe in two weeks I will utterly regret my decision and he won’t take me back. But I don’t want to settle.
That’s what I feel like I am doing in my work too. Though I have a masters degree, most of what I do is administrative or could be done by someone with a bachelor’s degree. While the learning curve seemed high at first, it was mostly because the organization I work for is not entirely easy to work within and I wasn’t given any sort of training. The intern quit today, and while he is a less than easy going, lovable sort of guy, a lot of things he said struck a chord with me. So now a fire is lit under my ass. Sure, I live in Paris and my job isn’t a huge source of stress, but it’s draining all the same because it’s not a good fit with my talents, interests, and how I fit in the organization. And hey, you spend a heck of a lot of time and energy at work.
I also love France but I just feel like I can see it crumbling every day around me. It is lovely, it is incredibly old, and it’s not going anywhere, but it is falling apart. The tricolor flag representing the good, the true, and the beautiful, almost feels like a parody of itself. A nation which once fostered intellectuals seems stuck with the failed ideologies of the past century. A meritocracy seems like a stiflingly closed circle of elites for the most part. There are many Parises, and many stories, but it’s rather strange to find that nearly everybody here thinks New York is better, though they don’t have any idea how hard and cruel it is or how many hours people work. Sometimes I wonder if that is the price of excellence or progress, and personally i want to be excellent, but also purposeful and balanced.
I’m learning the difference between love and obsession. I was hell bent to be here, but now I just at loose ends. I’m going to MeetUps and joined Okcupid (where I met the dude) and am making more efforts to adjust.
I feel like Paris is being her magical self by putting me through the ringer. And more than anything else, showing me my true self.
Which makes me want to go home.
And where is home, exactly?
It’s not quite back to the bosom of my family, my parents’ house. It’s more the idea of making my own little nest, and a life I don’t feel the need to escape from, to live within my integrity. I know I want to teach and nurture others in some way, and that I need a job where I feel like I am constantly learning and being challenged (although I don’t want to do something totally out of my talent zone, like become an engineer, just because it would be hard). My priorities are coming to light as push comes to shove.
And I am learning to first of all, be more humble and open to changes from my original plan. Learning that the best things come to those who wait- and pivot- while continuing to develop themselves.
There’s a lot of my happiness that is in my control, and I’m trying to figure out the difference between settling and waiting for the right moment. But I’ve also learned that self-delusion is never the way to go. I feel energized by the prospect of finding another opportunity with the self knowledge I’ve gained- hard-won at that. And in the meantime, I have nothing to complain about. I just know I can’t stay here and keep doing what I’ve been doing.
There’s a part of me that feels like everything would be ok if I could just plop myself in his lap and never be separated from him again. I have a feeling that my other half and I are starting to really both long for each other and hopefully he’ll come and get me soon.
But that won’t give me a better job necessarily or make me in one fell swoop the person I want to become.
So an end to self delusion it is, and no more Peter Pan or Prince Charming or the desire to play house.
First, I take care of me, and save the world a little bit.