So, I've been thinking

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's hard to believe that Gui and I moved into our apartment just over a year ago; that last year we were organizing our new life as a married couple - running through the aisles of Ikea weekend after weekend, building and rebuilding furniture; that I was setting out into the unknown world that is Paris with no friends nor any idea of what my life would be like here. It's crazy how much can change in one year.

Paris has gone from being a confusing labyrinth of roundabouts to an easily navigable town wherein lie my regular hideouts, favorite patisseries and most-frequented shoe shops. I know where I can go if I need to pick out buttons for my latest knitting project, if I'm all out of baking soda or need to get a gift for out-of-town guests. Meeting friends or family for dinner in the middle of town is no longer a strenuous task and I know exactly how long it takes me to get from one stop on a metro line to another. Add into the mix a solid set of friendly faces that I regularly meet up with for coffee, picnics, drinks and dinner-parties, and there could hardly exist a better definition of home.

Yet, continuously fermenting in the back of my mind is the thought of returning to Austin, and it's because of that thought that I've never really embraced Paris as I really should have. The walls of our apartment are still bare because I'm hesitating to "homify" the place; our kitchen still lacks a mixer, real coffee maker and blender, and my clothes go un-hemmed for lack of a sewing machine because I'm resisting the urge to buy things I already have back in the US. I keep telling myself, "Oh, well, it's just a waste of money if I do that or buy this since we're going to move back to Texas anyway." And thus, my nostalgic feelings and homesickness settle in, making Paris feel less like home and more like an inconvenient place to be.

I think after settling into the reality of what I thought my life would be like here - exhausting French classes, more coat-wearing than flip-floppping, a tiny kitchen and even tinier bathroom, walking instead of driving, putting my career on permanent hold and taking out loans to stock-up on refried beans - I just kind of decided to give up on my efforts to make myself at home. So, it's weird now. I feel like I physically live here, but mentally see it as a mere means to an end. And who wants to live like that?

I think the epiphany came when I was at a book-signing for my favorite food blogger, David Lebovitz's latest new book. I was standing in W.H. Smith, flipping through his novel-style recipe book and realizing that I live in Paris. There I was, standing in a bookstore just in front of the Tuileries Garden, just off of Place de la Concorde, a mere 20 minutes from my apartment, waiting for friends to meet me after their day at work so that we could get our shiny, new books signed by a local author. We strolled through the neighborhood afterward for a quick drink and for one evening I really felt like I was in the place I was supposed to be. Maybe it had a little to do with the familiarity I felt when flipping through Lebovitz's book that cited familiar places and similar experiences, or maybe it was because I was in an English bookstore that reminded me of one back home, or maybe it was all the people I ran into - the friends and familiar faces that made it feel like the world is so small. However it came about, it started a series of thoughts about how I really live my life here, and I came to the realization that I've really been holding back.

Although it doesn't change much about our intention to move to Texas (which we're still planning to do in the next 4-8 months), changing my mentality about how I want to live here while we're still here (and when we return) really gives me a new perspective on how I spend my time each day. Holding back because of what might come is a silly way to pass the time, and I don't want to short-change myself from having a seriously amazing time living it up in gay Paree. I guess in short, what I wanted to say is, I'm getting a blender...and may be doing a little decorating, too.


Justin said...

Wow Sarah! I don't think I could have said it any better myself. I have been thinking about all of the same things lately... and you have seen my apartment with the 3 license plates and one Paris metro map that I have as decoration. Combine everything you talked about with my impending move to Paris and I have definitely stopped living in my town here (excluding the weekend you all visited). I promise though I will be making the most of my time in Paris, and I hope that you and Gui will join me in making the most of our time in France!

Candy said...

just today nathan was showing off his new lego watch to his violin instructor. when he told her it came from FRANCE, she was like, "WOW! Your Auntie lives there?? SHE'S lucky!" Miss you though!

Nikita said...

Yes, girl! Live it up!
Because you never know what tomorrow will bring. Cliche, but so true...
I have been a long time lurker... Looking forward to posts about you going out and enjoying all that Paris has to offer!

L'Étrangère Americaine said...

Just don't mount your blender on your wall like your cupboard and I think it will be all good.

Embrace your time here, last thing you want is to live with regrets.

Kalee said...

I loved this post! Living in England for 2 years, I've come to think of it as a just the place I live for now, not home. Kind of like an in limbo thing. Now, we find out that there is a chance we could be here another 2-3 years, so I am thinking perhaps I should start seeing it as home. And maybe do a little bit more decorating....

Emily Marie said...

I almost felt like I was writing parts of this post, especially when you talk about making your apartment more "homey" or investing in things you already have in the US. I have yet to get photos printed for the 10 or so frames I purchased for the new apartment and have put off buying anything electronic...I no longer see the point. I figure, if we're going to move soon (now: Jan 2010) why spend the money?

Marie said...

Héhé, c'est marrant, je comprends carrément...j'ai vécu exactement la même chose quand j'étais à Austin...j'étais "lost in translation" ... jusqu'au déclic!
C'est pas forcément si facile que ça de réaliser qu'on a une chance fabuleuse de vivre des expériences aussi enrichissantes!

Au fait, les moules-frites, le soleil, et les oiseaux qui chantent vous attendent en Normandie :) ... la porte est grande ouverte, vous venez quand vous voulez!...très vite j'espère :)

I miss you, gros bisous et take care of you!

Clarice said...

You're lucky! I would love to live in Paris, if only for a couple of months. Instead, I have to contend to annual visits...

misplaced texan said...

Thanks, everyone!

Justin, I'm just glad that we were able to see what your life is like in little Chalon before you make your trek up to Paris. Can't wait to see you here!

Can, I love my nephews!! :)

Nikita, Thanks so much! Cliche or not, it's true. I'm trying to get back on track with my blog, so hopefully there'll be more regular posts around here than there have been lately!

Oh, Ms. Etrangere, always the comedian! Embracing my time here is easier with super-cool people like you around!

Kalee, it's nice to hear that I haven't been alone in my limbo-ness. I'm just starting to realize that living in limbo makes the experience so much less authentic, and for me it keeps my thoughts distracted from the bigger picture, which is that I'm living in France for goodness sake! Good luck with the decorating! ;)

Em, I really have felt the same way. But, now I'm starting to think that it's less about saving the money and effort more about making myself a little happier. Still, I think there will be some things I'll continue to hold off on, unless/until we decide to live in Paris indefinitely.

Marie! Merci!! Vous me manquez, aussi! Nous voulons te rendre visite tres bientot...peut-etre dans quelques semaines. Je vais t'emailer. Bisous!!

Nenne said...

From my experience - I am the Italian who twice a year goes back home to be a tourist - I find that only once you begin to take a place for granted and are unimpressed by its beauty, you start truly living in it. If you can now walk around Paris and not be in awe of the clothes, the art, the food, the people, I think you have deserved that blender =)

Deidre said...

It's funny, sometimes I feel the same way about being in Australia - I'll move back to America eventually - thinks I. But strangely different, is that deep down, I don't want to. And thus the purchase of a yoga mat doesn't seem so ridiculous. Or a lamp. or ANOTHER pair of shoes.

Live it up! You're in PARIS.

Anonymous said...

Nice post. :-)
I'm also an expat in Paris, well, an immigrant really. I'm just wondering why you want to move back to your native country? (I'm new at reading your blog, so sorry if I have missed out on something).

I don't know much about the U.S. (I immigrated from Scandinavia, but is living in Texas better than Paris, or do you just miss your american family?

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