So I leave tomorrow for Boston and it in all probability I won’t be back to France for nine months (there is a more positive way to phrase that sentence but addicts don’t think that way). I can’t help thinking too hard, it’s just what I naturally do when I’m alone. Margaret left yesterday for Italy with the other am?©ricaines so I was alone here last night.
Last year at this equivalent point in time, I was about to get in the car with JS and Chelsey to drive to Paris and spend the night at his uncle’s. It was a great way to leave which was good because I was so terrified of leaving. I knew the hours were counting down but I had to not think about it in order to stay sane. Leaving last year was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. (Yes, I’ve led a relatively easy life.) I’d been scared to leave places before (Texas for Macalester, the U.S. for France) but I always knew before that there was a good reason (college, rubbing off my provincial edges) for what I was doing. What’s more when I got home there was no one there. It was just horrible and I was pretty much constantly on the verge of tears for two days.
This year is markedly different. I’m stopping in Boston for three days to see my brother and then when I get to San Antonio my parents and the dogs will be there to jump all over me (the dogs, not my parents). I’m going back to start school again in something I’m now really interested in. And there’s no boyfriend, just some foreign and French friends I really adore. This time I’ve been dreading and agonizing over leaving for so long that I pretty much just want it over with at this point. Oh yes, and the number of French people on facebook has doubled. You wouldn’t think it would make such a huge difference but it really does.
What to say about these (hopefully first) two years in France? At the risk of sounding sentimental (but then I am a ridiculously sentimental person sometimes), it’s changed my life. I suppose I owe some of that to JS because it’s due to him that I even thought about staying more than 7 months in France. Living here has given me things to reach for instead of just coasting. I was talking to A the other night about how I want to come back and stay and he said yes, well, you’re leaving now, so of course you’d think like that. And I said no, actually, last year I didn’t feel this way. I thought for sure one more year would do the trick and didn’t think that I could spend my life in France. And oddly, it was a chance remark from A a few months ago that put the thought of staying in my head (he probably doesn’t even remember saying it–we were both drunk). Those kind of remarks seem to have been deciding my life choices lately… it was my mother who last summer randomly threw out the idea of getting a masters in education. Anyway, the point is that really the idea of spending a life in France has been very slow coming and it’s because it’s been so slow coming that I think it’s an idea that’s here to stay.
So, how exactly has France changed me?
–I like techno music. (Well, some of it.) Yeah, I can’t believe it either.
–I can probably name ten to fifteen different French singers. (That’s not that many but it seriously took a while.)
–I can agree with statements like “yes it’s a ridiculous word, but doesn’t soixante-quinze have a nice ring to it?”
–I can get lost in Paris in many creatively different ways.
–I dream about living in a tiny walk-up apartment with a French boy whom I can bicker with in two languages.
–I can win the categories game against any American (who hasn’t lived in France) when we play using cheese as the topic.
–I can say good night in Italian, please and excuse me in Polish, and thank you in Arabic. (But can’t actually form any sentences in any of them.)
–I like Americans.
–I love the French.
–I honestly wonder why people born in Saint-Malo would ever leave to live anywhere else.
A really incomplete list as you would guess but I should get moving. This post didn’t really end up summing up the constant introspectiveness of the past twenty-four hours as I hoped but who wants to read that anyway.