For the past few years, I’ve spent almost as much time in France as in the US, and abroad in general as in the US.
My first real job, and apartment, was in France. There are some French things that just feel like home to me, and some customs and values that seem like common sense- even when they go against my own habits, like the French desire to know where their food comes from.
For years, I have felt torn between here and there, between my seemingly American, Anglo-Saxon, Anglophoney self and that of the person I’ve become when I’m in France, when I’m speaking in French, when my inhabitions are lowered by being a foreigner and I have the freedom of being an outsider, though at times constricted when I operate under other social codes and listen to rules that don’t exist for Americans in America. Overall, the experience of living abroad has been freeing- perhaps living well anywhere is freeing- and I feel simultaneously more American and more open/international/European though I haven’t really adopted French attitudes.
In the US, all my feelings of awkwardness as a child and more can come to the surface when people don’t know the movies I like or appreciate the music I sometimes listen to, and having lived abroad can only exarcerbate that. Yet there are times I feel nothing more or less than sheer love and not quite blind but truly fierce devotion to my homeland. Even the moments when what home means and more importantly, where it really is for me,has been called into question.
I always felt like I had to choose- America or French- that in order to move forward, I’d have to give something, and somebody, up.
But the truth is that hey complete each other.
We are not living in a bipolar world where it’s the US vs the Soviet Union in the final clash of civilizations. We live in a world where more than one thing can be true, but not at the same time.
And more certain that that, you can’t always have two things that seem mutually opposing at the same time, and yet all those categories of here/there, us/them, foreign/home, and America/France just get knocked around a lot like the broken shards of bottles that carried messages which have now been hammered into smooth sea glass.
The moon may seem to be overpowered by the sun, and we may think we can live without it, but who are we to live without the tides. And the stars, invisible during the day, only endear the moon and its night even more to us, not to mention how she changes. And yet the sun is technically what gives us life and brings growth to the world.
For me, America and France, while I can’t quite live in them both at the same time, exactly, are a both/and for me, not usually an either/or. I do fully believe that when the moment comes to return to France I will, no mater how many years it may have been since my last stay or what might have happened. And yet, I believe France is not always going to be my literal home, and there are times I feel pulled to the US. And there are times I admit the reasons for my pull to France, as o the US, are idiotic and childish, bu I have no doub I am right where I need to be, and I will end up wherever I need to be.
So finally, I have an answer to the question the soul has been askning itself for quite some time now, or erhaps it was my mind who prompted my soul.
In all events, I feel better about it now.
With courage, I hvae no doubt I will end up where I need to be, my cup will be filled, and lov eis all I will ever be able ot take back with me.