I'm just going to come out and say it: marriage freaks me out. Even as a self-proclaimed romantic, I can't begin to fathom what it's like to be so sure about spending (and sharing) the rest of your life with another. I imagine it'd be something like this..?
Even so, I'm confident the truest and deepest kind of love--one that perhaps I have yet to experience--has the power to bring about this certainty of commitment. I've seen it. Behold, photographic evidence from my beautiful friend's beautiful wedding:
Pure love... in her mother's eyes, in their embrace during the first dance, in the thoughtful words of the maid of honor (my old roommate)'s speech. I felt so privileged to share in such a happy, monumental evening (and with the perfect date, too).
I was nervous. Before coming home, I mean. Not because of all the lovely familiarities, of course, but because he was meeting me there. I'd be reuniting with everyone and everything while introducing him to all of it. Up until now, he's merely been a representative figure of my other life in Paris, one that my loved ones have only heard about over Skype calls or through email. This mesh of a visit made it all the more real... perhaps to me as much as to them. And, let's not forget, to him, too.
But, it was amazing. He fit in at the wedding, at my parents' dining room table, and at more than one happy hour. Everyone adored him. He appreciated everyone that means home to me. Merci beaucoup, ma chou! I dropped him off at the airport this morning. Now, I have a few quiet days with family before venturing to the Cape to celebrate July 4th, and then, I'll fly back to Paris as well. Looking forward to giving you a glimpse into our wonderfully full week in New York beforehand.
Two people I grew up with--one in the traditional sense, the other one on Syracuse University's campus--passed away recently.
Her and I weren't best friends, per se, but we were friendly for four years. There are photos of us from bid day (she was the only familiar face then), college graduation, and many sorority parties in between. She was smart and sweet; the kind of woman for whom phrases like "beautiful inside and out" are made for. I can hardly believe our current reality. Just this past weekend, a joyous occasion brought me to Syracuse with five women (sisters) we both adored. One shared life begun, another tragically lost.
According to my boss at PageYourself, not having a flight itinerary 24 hours before departure is, "an adventure." Let me just say here and now: it wasn't one I enjoyed. The trouble is, I reserved my plane tickets to and from New York with a friend of a friend of airline-employed parents. As such, the reservation itself was cheap... and confirmed very last minute. Fine.
But it wasn't exactly because I went to bed on Tuesday without a clue as to when I was flying out on Wednesday. This meant that there was an alarm at 3am, 4am, 5am, 6am, 7am, and a wake-up alarm at 8:15 am to check my inbox for flight details. At 9am, I received an email, "Your flight is for 7:10pm so no need to be ready in the early morning." A relief, yes, but also annoying after such a tumultuous night of sleep. "I'm waiting for the confirmation. Should be there asap! Could you please send me your phone number so I can send you the relevant information?" I provided my phone number and leisurely spent the morning eating breakfast, reading blogs, slowly cleaning up my room. It was the first day I'd off in a very long time. It wasn't until noon that I took a shower! Then, as I got ready to run out for lunch, I received a text: "My contact (his name is Khaled) will call you in a very short time. You leave earlier from Roissy Airport at 17:10 (not 19:10). Please confirm you've received my text. You need to be at the airport at 15:00." It was 12:45pm. The commute to the airport from my apartment is roughly an hour.
So, I ran out to lunch faster than expected, finished packing, and barely cleaned up in order to leave my apartment at 1pm. The wait for a taxi--at the 10-minute-walk away station--was an unbelievable 20 minutes. As my driver dropped me off at the train station, he demanded a tip before I even had a chance to pay. Then I caught the express train to the airport, and along the way, heard from Khaled. I nearly sighed in relief. Thirty minutes later, of course, the airline employee couldn't find my reservation...
He eventually did though, thankfully. I boarded an American Airlines plane at 4:50pm. I arrived at JFK airport at 7:28pm. My parents greeted me, for the first time in 6 months, at 8:15pm (the customs line was insane). But, I made it! I'm safe and sound, and I only spent 450-euros on a round-trip ticket. Be back soon with stories of better adventures from home :).
"Among the educated, enlightened, expensive middle classes of Europe, this [America is fat, stupid & ignorant] is a received wisdom. A given. Stronger in some countries like France, less so somewhere like Germany, but overall the Old World patronizes America for being a big, dumb, fat, belligerent child. The intellectuals, the movers and the makers and the creators, the dinner-party establishments of people who count, are united in the belief—no, the knowledge—that Americans are stupid, crass, ignorant, soul-less, naïve oafs without attention, irony, or intellect. These same people will use every comforting, clever, and ingenious American invention, will demand America’s medicine, wear its clothes, eat its food, drink its drink, go to its cinema, love its music, thank God for its expertise in a hundred disciplines, and willall adore New York." - A. A. Gill (Vanity Fair, July 2013).
The irony, I tell ya! (Many thanks to Olivia for sharing). Perhaps it's somewhat similar to the ways in which Americans can consider the French pretentious while unapologetically consuming the romance of Paris? To a lesser extent maybe ;). No matter where your opinions stand, I doubt one would be able argue against a Friday happy hour in Belleville that includes a cold apéro, warm sun, and this view. Had I known it could be so wonderful (and had I not been coming straight from work), I surely would've packed a picnic like the gents above. Gosh, I'm going to miss Paris for the next two and a half weeks. New York, here I come...!
On the morning of the first day of my senior year of high school, I got into a car accident. It was a small one, (there was more traffic waiting at the light than I'd expected and I bumped into it coming around the corner), but I was really shaken up. My brother, in the car with me, was laughing. As the woman in front of me got out and inspected the damage (there was none), I yelled at him to walk to school. The unforgiving woman asked for my insurance. I nervously gave it to her and she smugly said she wouldn't file a police report. I called my mom who reacted even more dramatically than I'd expected. Then, my dad came. He accompanied me to the parking lot and gave me a hug. He told me not worry about the car, or the insurance, or my mom even; this kind of thing happens to everyone and it was just an accident. He promised everything was going to be okay. It was.
And each time I've gone to him in stress and tears and worry, he's made sure it is. He's the best man I know. Though we don't chat often enough nowadays, I've never felt his quiet confidence in me waver. Happy Father's Day, Papi! I cannot wait to see you soon.
Happy Friday, friends! I must admit I'm happier than usual about it. My days have been long (class in the morning, internship in the afternoon) and full (dinners out or movie nights in) this week. Phew! I need easy from tonight's happy hour to dimanche. I doubt this weekend will actually be relaxing though--I have to solidify my directed study research with a concrete outline and bibliography. I have to find a gift and a dress for the wedding. I have to do laundry, clean my apartment, and pack.
I was supposed to move this weekend, too, but thankfully I don't have to. I met with my landlord last night and she kindly let me arrange to move into my new apartment (!) in July. It has a real kitchen, and a full bathroom. The luxury, I tell ya! Plus, it's closer to my favorite market. More good news from yesterday: the start-up I intern at just got 10,000-euros more awesome. Very exciting. When I congratulated my boss on my way out of the office, he responded, "Thanks a lot, you're part of it!" I am so thrilled to be.
Of course, as is my nature, I'm a bit scared, too. By July, I'll be a full-time intern. My day to day life is going to be so different from the student schedule I've finally gotten used to. I'm also not going to be around my American friends as conveniently or often. It'll be good for language acquisition, but will likely offer less expat comfort. And, gosh, how will I so "effortlessly" learn new things about the world every day? I really liked that part. (It's for this very reason, by the way, that I'll still committed to a thesis.)
Last week, I met Julika at another adorable, Australian-owned café, Tuck Shop. It was such a comfort to chat with a like-minded gal (in a similar transitional place) over cappuccinos. Julika went off to a picnic afterwards and it seemed like she had a great time: "I repeat: we had been there, having a picnic, for six hours. It was a Friday. Nobody had the shred of an obligation that day. Work? Not with this group. And that wasn’t the end. There were invitations — a stop for gelato next, a possible party on Saturday night, a definite book signing on Sunday. It’s Paris. Everything here is about pleasure." Kate's reflection seems accurate but idealistic. Although us twenty-somethings in Paris may have alternative careers and lifestyles, it's not all bread, wine, and cheese. I promise.
However, the fact that it can be, is probably what drives my desire to stay here longer. I want to become fluent in French; I want to find my place in this global community; I want to settle into a more satisfying life, in every sense of the word. And I don't want to lose touch with my family and friends in the States in the process. Talk about demanding, huh? I can't help it. I miss them. Every single day. As such, I can't even begin to express how lucky I feel to have such good reasons to see them again so soon.
My little sister is graduating from high school next Thursday and my favorite friend couple is getting married next Saturday. Such happy occasions, even without considering the added bonus of introducing the boy to my home. My only delay on excitement is that I don't yet know when my flights are; the beauty of employee discount tickets, I suppose! But, to echo the boy's optimism, it'll be fine. After all, "fear, uncertainty, and discomfort are your compasses towards growth," right? Allons-y.
The French are extremely proud of their petits villes. I've noticed because of my experience in the States in which talk of Small Town USA is usually met with ridicule and the declarative question: "why would anyone want to go there?" Even still, for as much as Parisians have glorified places like Colmar, Morlaix, Reims, Fontainebleau, and Avignon (and not un-rightfully so), I have yet to hear anyone talk up la banlieue. This term for the Parisian suburbs tends to connotate low-income apartments and social housing.
But, last weekend, I needed a quick escape anyway. Juggling a summer course and a new internship is a lot, and sometimes a girl just needs to spend time wandering a new place with fresher air. So, the boy and I made plans for a day trip to Giverny.
Chance had a different adventure in mind. Not only did we accidentally sleep in until noon, but after rushing to get ready (and caffeinated), we missed a train to Vernon by three minutes.The next one wasn't for another hour. In an attempt to keep me from becoming a disappointed grouch, the boy decided to take matters into his own hands. He looked on the map of possible RER A destinations, found a forest near the Seine, and suggested we visit Maisons-Laffitte instead. "Fine," I said with a sigh, "why not?"
Maisons-Laffitte--an affluent commune of Paris--ended up being the perfect destination for a day trip outside of Paris; barely 20 minutes from the Arc de Triomphe! It's main attractions are the 17th-century Château de Maisons-Laffitte and horse racing track. We were thrilled to stumble upon both, in addition to ample green spaces, a traveling antique show, a tag sale at a British church, and beer, fries, and tartines at Le Cosy. I really need to go to la banlieue more often. Up next: Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Maybe, eventually, Giverny, too.