So in the past week I have been contemplating my choices really (mostly whether, and how long to stay in France, if I should look for a new job here, go back to DC, where can I find true love, is this it?)-everything seems tied in to whether to go home or stay here or where is home, who am I who do I want to become, etc, really hard. Possibly too hard. On deep level, I am afraid and anxious, not sure what will make me happy, not sure what’s the right thing to do, what I want to do, if my paradigm of the world works at all, and most of all, which mistakes I am willing to make.
And when one is motivated by existential sorts of things, that means nothing is straightforward. If I wanted to maximize my career, optimize for more time with my family, or for anything else, it would be simple.
Also, every time I come to France, i feel like it’s the last time. Or at least I enjoy it more when I think that way. When I think of it as my potential future and the wagon I have hitched my life to, then it becomes easy to despair, not only become homesick but become totally disgusted with everything here, and long for salvation in some other way.
TO be honest, I think it’s correct, as well as somewhat cutting, to admit that, as my mother mentioned once, I’ve never really been normal in America, so she understands why it would be freeing to go elsewhere where by default I would not be judged by normal standards. It is completely true. It’s also completely true that by being in France and not obeying anyon’e s social rules, I’ve become more comfortable in my own skin and feel more affinity with people at home, who in the past I might have felt separated from. I’ve never felt more American than I do now, or proud of my country to be honest, though that doesn’t stop me from being critical.
I’ve created this false dichotomy in my head that America=relationship/social happiness- family, hotter dudes, and easier to make friends, and nicer people. also better career prospects quite posisbly, more $$$, stability since I have the birthright to live there, expressing myself in my native tongue with all the witticisms you’ve come to enjoy from me, and you know, not being a foreigner. Though I might feel like a foreigner after all the time I’ve spent here. And France= curiosity, exploration, freedom, isolation, travel, beauty, vacation, stagnation, speaking French, the language of my heart, iffy on the career side, and nothing will ever be stable. Sometimes I feel like France, and living abroad, can be a kind of Neverland, and a permanent vacation, since there are no roots, and you know you could go back anytime. but like Hotel California, you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. And everything remains kind of surreal, in limbo, or stagnation. I’ve met too many expats, especially Americans, who are just not well adjusted, period. Not least because all the ambitious people of the world, particularly the English speaking world, flock to New York, London, LA…
Another complicating factor is “the one that got away.” Albeit that of course, he got away for a reason. We are forever friends, and somehow no matter how friendzoned, always on the verge of love. Haven’t seen him for more than three years, but every time we talk it was like yesterday. I know if he really wanted me, he would find a way to be with me. But I also know true love waits, and he wants what is best for me (and himself). I feel like I would probably never get to live in France again if I were with him, we might go to another country but it probably wouldn’t be France. And if I did do France with him, it would be so different because he doesn’t speak French at all. And it goes without saying, there goes my chance of marrying into a bourgeois, well-educated, openminded, well-mannered French family, like those of some of my good friends, who have incredibly charming homes and despite being ssooo French, are very kind and incredibly sweet. And they are, Americainized or rather, able to speak English and think like Anglo Saxons (that is to say, logically, har har) when the moment comes. Careerist for sure, but also happy people who love what they do.
It all seems to come down to questions like, “WHo am I?” or more importantly, “whom do I want to beocme?” “What is the secret of happiness?,” or “What is the meaning of life?”
One of the biggest lessons I”ve learned from being abroad is that life doesn’t always have to be logical or make any kind of sense whatsoever. I’ve also learned that whiile thre are a few things that are bette ror worse, most things are just different. I wonder how I can maintain such faith in American ideals despite not living there, but then I realize that my ideals are my own human ones, and trying to fit them into the “american box,” much as I truly do love America and am always inspired by liberty and equality and tolerance, I am more human than American though it’s taken me a long time to realize that. And even though the realization that I am not French helped prompt that sense of identity, the boundaires are becoming blurred. I’m super anxious about my American friend (why do I have to distinguish that she’s American?!?!) is coming to visit, and I am going to realize all the ways I’dhave truouble fitting into Amurca anymore. We are all citizens of the world, but not everyone has a global consciousness.
So it’s important to stop making false choices, and affirm where I am today, and who I am. I can’t go back to my uncomplicated, less sophisticated younger self, I can’t go back to that right person, wrong time and fix it (I gave it my all at the time and he said no),
I can give up one fairy tale for another
or rather, a story I liked to tell myself about how one day I’d grow up, become normal, and have a litle less wanderlust, and be the person I should be and go live in America and be satisfied, because there’s somethign wrong with me for not being satisfied with that, something disloyal and ungrateful and ill-adjusted; and live fully the fairy tale that I am already living, that of life in a beautiful, confusing country where people’s attitudes sometimes have an ugly side, and it sometimes feels like the land that time forgot and is certainly not winning any glbal race to the top anytime soon, but is beautiful nonetheless. And maybe to do that, I have to give up my false fairytale about finally convincing him to love me, even though I know he really did but he knew better than I did why it wasn’t the right moment, and maybe in anoher few months or lifestyle or two I’ll find him again. But that doesn’t mean I’ll never find love where I am at, being who I am now- giving up the narrative that I was somehow flawed, not ready, not good enough, not mature enough before, and nw I’m all better and fixed and normal-
And me, living in France, regardless of how sound or not my motivatiosn may have been, is a lot like living in a fairytale- despite the ogres and trolls. Just today I had some strawberries that looked exactly like the ones Red Riding Hood was tempted by on the side of the road.
And me, single, but not alone, confused but far from quitting, is not the ending but only the beginning of the fairytale. It’s not this or living my youthful ambition in Washington, which always feels like home, complete with a wedding and eternal bliss with Captain America, complicated and sensitive soul that he is.
Because the truth is I am neither American nor French, I will never “end up,” anywhere, or really be tied down, because nothing in this life ever is-
The illusion is not the way we define our choices, or even that we have a choice.
The real illusion is that there’s ever going to be anything but the here and now, whatever choice we make. And that here and now will always give way to another, and we have the power every second, though life might seem to get brittle and dried out and hard, but rather, it is the river itself.
And life is not but a dream, but I’m going to go back to living, and I happen to just be living my dream. Right now.