Sunday, August 06, 2006

L'expatriée devient L'ex-Parisienne

It took a long time to feel at home in Paris. Everything was so different--from the traffic signs to the public transportation to the brands at the supermarket. The first days were very hard for both of us, and we wondered if we'd ever feel like we belonged.

Now, as I walk through the streets lined with tiny cafés and brasseries, as I admire the little pots of geraniums on miniscule terrasses, and as I wind my way through the narrow cobblestone streets that were originally designed 800 years ago for horse-drawn carts and foot traffic, I feel at home. Things don't surprise me anymore. People ask me for directions, and I can answer them. The lady at the bakery knows what I'll order, automatically reaching for a baguette des prés or dropping my pain aux céréales in the machine to slice. Even the lady at the street market who has the best butter in all of Paris leaves out some beurre salé when cleaning things up, expecting me to show up at the last minute, like I always do, as they are packing up for the day. I belong here, now. Paris is my home.

Last night, we returned from a wonderful outing with friends to see Les Pirates des Caraïbes: Le Coffre Maudit, for a drink on the terrasse of Paris Plages: Rive Gauche, and to walk through the park at Bercy. We enjoyed jokes and laughter and dinner together, with a mixture of English and French being spoken, even within the same sentence.

After we arrived home, I spoke to my mother-in-law and father-in-law on the telephone, while Dr. B prepared the laptop to watch a few episodes of borrowed TV. Jeannie and I spoke of books, and family members, and trips to Toronto. Then she said something that hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. Or should I say pavés?

"Just days now until you come home!"

"Well, a few weeks yet..."

"EIGHTEEN days. Eighteen, now. Only eighteen days."

Dix-huit jours.

This morning, I look out the window at the sun shining on the leaves of our trees, the grass on the median of our avenue growing thick and lush from the recent rains, and the tiny cars, fewer because of all of the Parisians who've left for vacation, circling the Place d'Italie, and I wonder.

How will I ever leave this wonderful place? This city that I now love, that I am a part of. That is a part of me.

Comment est-ce qu'on dit "Au Revoir" à Paris?



At 7:54 AM, August 06, 2006, Blogger Kat said...

Speaking from experience, it will always be your home. For me, Paris was a place where I really came into myself, where I really became an adult, learned to understand myself, others, etc. When I think of home, I think of Paris and of my home here in Wisconsin, which is far less exciting but just as meaningful because it has my family. Paris will always be a part of you. When I moved back from Paris, as I sobbed, my mom said, "Honey, Paris will always be there." And, it's true. I'm different each time I go back, but Paris isn't.

At 10:04 AM, August 06, 2006, Anonymous The guy next door said...

Ne dis pas "au revoir", seulement "à la prochaine".
Don't say "goodbye", just say "see you soon".

At 12:42 PM, August 06, 2006, Anonymous The Bold Soul said...

I saw that same movie last night, too! (OK, so it was here in NJ and not in Paris.) Quelle coincidence!

At 12:44 PM, August 06, 2006, Blogger PutYourFlareOn said...

Yes, what he said... a la prochaine. You'll be back. :)

At 9:22 AM, August 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Work very hard and you will be back in paris on vacation or vacation home before you know it. :)


At 1:12 PM, August 08, 2006, Blogger ~steph~ said...

LOL!! Can you tell Auntie Jeanne is just a little excited for you guys to move back to the U.S??!!!


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