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."
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?