So I spent most of last week in London, and it was a blast. Colleagues were really fun, one actually owns a bar that we shut down, and the feeling of energy and optimism was palpable. Everywhere I turned there was a new kind of nearly de-exoticized ethnic cuisine, vegan burgers, burger and lobster, canary wharf, brixton, 70s disco style party to stumble upon, shipping container bars, and just plain diversity and innovation, so many foreign people, such a feeling of worldliness and so many immigrants and people with strange accents my American accent wasn’t even remarked upon. In one word, dynamic.
So it could be that work might take me there, for a time, and I’d even have the possibility of returning to France.
France has been disappointing me as of late, when I call to mind it’s been three years and I’m still struggling to have a social life, have a date with a guy who doesn’t have a wig and does have a job, and there’s really nothing in particular to keep me here. I can love the city and think it’s beautiful, but I have to concede that outside of la Francophonie, it’s not the center of the world.
And that’s ok.
A lot of times, places a bit off course are more charming, that’s what I find in travel at least.
The anglosaxon dream of more work for more pay and responsibility strikes a chord in me somewhere, but the last time I left France, despite the ultimate wisdom of the decision, I fell into a pretty deep depression (when I asked my therapist if I was depressed before, she said, “YES” without even hesitating) that even the beauty and romance of Paris couldn’t heal.
And yet, life is more than likely no sweeter there. I’m just disappointed in myself, and yes, in France, that this hasn’t become the home that I dreamed of my whole life, and I am forced to admit it and perhaps uproot myself just as I’m finally beginning to settle in.
Cool people come to Paris, but money hungry and ambitious and open people go to London, even among the French. Those who try the anglo saxon life tend not to go back, but I guess that’s because they have an escape patch. I tell myself that if I didn’t have student debt, I wouldn’t care about money and would be perfectly happy where I am, but I think the point is just to grow, change and evolve.
But not just escape blindly, opening up one trap door after another, believing in the myth of anywhere but here, and thinking that a change of scnery will save your life.
I don’t hope that for myself. Just learning, and being rewarded for it.
Today, knowing what I know now not just logically but from what I’ve seen of this world, it was in no way at all a mistake for me to leave Paris to continue my program and see Asia and get an American degree the last time around. I did the best possible thing. Without my American degree, my negotiating power woul dbe much less.
And yet, does 45 days of vacation during the prime years of my life without attachments merit a slightly slower climb, and a bit of income foregone? It probably does, as long as work continues to progress and I learn and am trusted and given credit and reward for what I accomplish.
I also ask myself whether the fascination with travel will cease or diminish or just get stronger over the course of my life. Would a more open friendly society make up for the days of traveller friendliness out on the road? Would a change of pace in a financial capital with ambitious people who are drawn to London to make their fortunes from all over the world suit me better than the economically stagnant but solid and sweet life in Paris?
Future me says if I go to London, I won’t regret it, but also maybe you can take your time.
As of now I don’t actually have an offer, and I want to make sure I am not using it as an escape hatch. My boss in France just decided today to recognize how I’ve grown and essentially give me a promotion. Might take a little longer than in other places but hey, you pay a price for everything in life.
I’m just excited to get out of depression, clear the haze from my life, pat myself on the back for keeping on, and let life be an adventure.
Hopefully with someone special and brave at my side.
Perhaps the greatest gift France has given me is making me a true world citizen, and giving me perspective not only on my own society but also others. And so many places I’ve been and people I’ve met and the blind loyalty I felt to Paris, just clinging to it, believing I was so close and this had to be my place. Maybe it is, for now, and to a certain extent it always will be. All I know is I’ve only lost the things I’ve tried to cling to.
Like government, like non profit work, like Washington. Like saving the world. And yes, like the idea that I can only be happy in Paris and Paris must be the center of the world, or at least my world. Catholicism, family as the center of the universe, me believing I’m an awkward nerd, and perhaps most of all, my imposter syndrome. Now I own my power, and use it. Yes there are difference in power nad privilege between people, but handicapping myself does no good to help those in need, and I am born to use those talents and most of all, to be myself.
Saying goodbye to this worldview, if not the physical place, at this moment, is a rather bittersweet goodbye.