(photo has nothing to do with this post, but is one of my favorites – taken my first week here)
Hindsight is 20/20, as they like to say. I am not sure if I agree. Much of my future, at least, can be predicted based on patterns of behavior and, most frankly, of denial.
I got on an airplane, one year ago today, leaving everyone and everything behind to try my luck in Paris. The reasons for doing so were many and varied – at the top of that list was the job itself, a three-year stint at one of the world’s most prestigious research institutes is nothing to dismiss out of hand, notwithstanding the superior location.
So, that was that. I arrived. I worked. I walked. I worked. I took photos. I worked some more. And, around April, the feeling of extended vacation (due to my location) ended and exhaustion and homesickness (due to an overloaded work schedule) started to sink in. I had to slow down – for my mental and physical health. I did and, in doing so, realized that a lot of the impetus for this move was not work. Or Paris. Or wanting to learn French. Or experiencing different cultures. I had gotten so good at selling my move to my friends, family and co-workers that I had taken no time to explore my true motivations.
I had been running away. Running away from seven years in graduate school. Running away from big decisions and lost relationships. After the chaotic ups and downs of Boston, I so desperately wanted to ‘start over’ that I had chosen the place farthest, literally and figuratively, from home to redefine who I was now. Who I wanted to be from here on out. Not surprisingly, but somewhat ironicly, who I am/was/will be (which, of course, had not changed, just had become slightly out of focus) is decidedly American and feeling not a little lost on foreign soil.
People do not change and I am no exception. I have created (and experienced) ebbs and flows in my new Parisian life. There are days in which I talk myself in and out of moving back home at least twenty times. I have learned to calm myself with good food, interesting people, fuzzy wool sweaters and patience. I have pushed myself to experience more of Paris (and less of lab) and have a New Year’s resolution already in place to get me out of the city and into the countryside one time per month in 2010. These things do not completely fill the constantly shifting void of homesickness (the World Series starting tonight, sad, Go Phillies!) but, hopefully, they will tide me over. The amazing blanquette de veau I had at the tiny bistrot a vins across the street last night will fill the rest.
One thing I did say from the very beginning of this adventure holds true: if there is a time in life to experience the world from a different angle, now is it. When else if when not married, with no children and freshly free of a long, cumbersome period of graduate work? I have earned the adventure; I just need to focus on getting the most out of it. Every day.