So I went back home for vacation and to a wedding in North Carolina. I marveled at the space, at how cheap clothing and shoe are, at how happy and optimistic people can seem, and how I felt like I had taken five pounds weights off my feet I’d forgotten were there. HOw easy it felt, to be at home?
NOw that I’ve accepted a permanent contract in France, spending time at home doesn’t feel like a quick break to see family but rather a real vacation, something different entirely. Kind of the level of ease of sitting on the beach at an all inclusive resort all day. It doesn’t feel like going home, really, it feels like going to see my parents and family and friends where I grew up. Because I come “home,” to France.
I couldn’t believe what I put myself through on an everyday basis being in France. It felt kind of sadomasochistic to force myself to go so far in the name of growth.
But actually that’s a big fat lie, “m not forcing anything. And it’s not only for growth or to accomplish something that “m here. I don’t feel like I have anything to prove. I do want to stay here longenough to be bi-cultural, but it’s not like I have a specific timeframe on a to-do list, except to speak even more kick-ass French.
I went to Philly, where I went to grad school after studying abroad in Paris and was miserable. Seeing it with fresh eyes, it was a cute little city with a fair amount of cultural stuff, a nice downtown, and wasn’t too expensive. Not a snooty place either. What’s not to like? I asked myself, why didnt I like living there? WOuld I try it again someday?
And the answer is, much as i enjoyed revisiting to my little haunts of an afternoon, I just felt a bit out of sync with the city. SOmething just felt off. ANd i could see how it was like trying to play a piano that was out of tune. THe vibration was just off. Ijust didn’t feel good there. WHile i can think of many potential explanations, the shseer fct tht was it just didn’t fit.
And I”m beginning to think fit is one of the most important things in life.
So I had another perspective on why I got so down in the dumps /I thik if I hdn’t already experienced Paris, or even DC, I might hve really enjoyed PHilly.OR maybe it was just never meant to be amy city, I don’t know. I di dhve some goo times there, but it just wasnt’ quite right and no amount of trying to convince myself would change the feeling.
I cme back to Paris, in my “populaire” neighborhood with concrete high rises and not just Hausmanien facades, and I felt good. I was really happy to be there.
When I went to go red a book next to the Canal, I felt the concrete welcome me.
Inexplicable, or t east, not entirely rational, but very real.
So her I am, loving Paris. ompletely aware of its flaws, swept up into the rhythms of dily life, having learned to coplain like the best of them, but here nd quite happy, and all me.
And I”ve accepted the fact that the center of gravity of my life, personal and professional, has shifted here.
And I’ve accepted myself nd the fact that I love it.
This has made a huge difference in my quality of life the last few days, realizing this.
Makes me feel a ton of gratitude.
And more confident in myself for having taking the leap.
And quite proud of myself in a way for having left to continue my studies. It was really brave of me to leave the firt place I ever felt truly at home and accepted, and I did it. I saw the the whole world and this is where I’ve chosen to stake my claim.
And someday, I hope, I’ll have the guts and opportunity to try something else for a little while, if only to come back. If only to make me appreciate more where I am home, and feel again the sweetness of first discovery.
But here is where I did it first,where I lived on myown as an expat, and some part of me took root here, and also, perhaps I did always feeel a bt of a call.
Even if I did’t dare admit it to myself.
My life is not maximized here, nd I can’t optimize everything because I am not a robot. I am not the person that I thought I should be eiher. I think I’m a prson that somewhere deep down I really wanted to be and didn’t dare, including my flaws which I ow and try to take responsibility for.
But I have anything I need to be the person and live my lfe the way I want to, nd this is the background tapestry I chose for my life.
THere’s no place I rather be.