Friday, October 29, 2010

How did three months turn into three years? Have I really been in Paris for that long? It’s funny how what started as a three-month visit just kind of quickly became living here indefinitely. And, man, is it amazing how much has happened in three years! I’ve gotten married, landed a good job, learned French, and I’m starting to finally recover from what felt like perpetual homesickness.

I’m not really sure if it’s a good thing or not, but those constant lingering urges to return to my homeland, to be with my kinfolk and back on the range have finally abated. Don’t get me wrong, I still miss my country (and family and food), but not with an overbearing intensity that brings me down so low that I can’t relish in the happiness of my current home. I imagine that much of my change of heart has to do with how I've really started to adapt to a new culture and new language. I feel like I can finally say that I’ve learned French. I’m not fluent by any means, but I live comfortably now in a language I avoided listening to just three years ago. I spend my day having conversations in French with my colleagues; I don’t need to bring a script with me every time I run an errand; and overall, I feel more confident in expressing myself.

On top of that, I've come to just accept France for what it is. It was hard at first for me to balance out the good and the bad, but I feel like I've approached a point where all the negative things about living here can be trumped just enough by the positive. People are generally rude, but they also generally dress well. Black beans and pinto beans cost an arm and a leg, but wine is cheap as dirt. It's super cold in the winter, but the city is drop-dead gorgeous in the fall. And so on and so forth.

Also, I think a lot of these new feelings about my life here are a product of my slight anxiety towards my approaching 30th birthday. It being about half a year away now, I’m starting to get the urge to settle down, create some permanence and stability in my life. Besides Gui, there really is nothing keeping me here or pulling me there, and it’s not like he’s any clearer on the subject of where we should land. While he's looking around for a new gig, I’m still waiting for some confirmation on how things are going to proceed with my job. We’re both itching to get into an apartment with more space and ideally, we’d like to buy our next abode or at least be a bit closer to ownership. While I'd love to announce that we have a plan, for the moment, nothing's in the works for a big move either here or there. I do, however, feel some big changes coming on, and I think these next few months into the new year will provide a lot of insight about how our next three years will pan out. Stay tuned.

Breakfast knitting and high tea, or Saturday

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fall is here, everyone! It's so fall right now that it's practically winter! The light is changing, the leaves are browning, and all I can think about cooking these days are soups and stews and chicken pot pie. I'm finally getting back my knitting mojo, too, and I've already knocked out a quick scarf to celebrate the cooler season. Right now, I'm working on a lovely red shawlette that I can't wait to throw around my neck for a little extra color on those inevitable grey days. I'm pretty lucky to have an amazing set of tricopines* that keep me inspired and give me a reason to self-indulge in my favorite craft at least once a week. Our tricothé knitting nights happen every Wednesday, but Aimee's been testing out Saturday morning breakfast knitting at her tea house, and it seems to be a big hit so far. Believe it or not, I'm loving having a reason to start my weekend off bright and early - there's something so comforting about waking up on a crisp fall day to sit around and knit with a big cup of tea and a handful of friends. I tried out the new tricot matin for the first time this past weekend, and it couldn't have been a more lovely experience. The Saturday morning light was so gorgeous that I couldn't help but pull out my phone to snap a few photos on my way to the tea house. We spent the morning catching up with each other, sipping on hot drinks and fondling the most beautiful yarn in Paris. Saturday morning heaven.

And, as if the day wasn't already amazing, I had a date with another group of girlfriends at the Hôtel de Crillon for afternoon tea. Yes, I'm talking about that hotel - the one that's all kinds of fancy schmancy with rooms starting at more than 500€ a night (or so I hear). I've been dying to have a fancy tea with friends ever since I arrived in Paris, and my friend Ebonie generously organized the whole outing.

We all arrived in our finest teatime attire for what proved to be a so very lovely experience. We couldn't have been better accommodated, even after a couple of us (which may or may not have included me) arrived a few minutes later than everyone else and needed to add two chairs, which very obviously blocked an important walkway. Every single person was so nice and charming and totally friendly, that even if we hadn't been served the mountainous plates of food we were served, it would have still been a great experience.

Included in our teatime menu was a silver théière full of our choice of tea, a plate with generous sized tea sandwiches (smoked salmon on poppy seed bread, bloc of foie gras on soft brioche and chicken breast on fresh baguette), and of course, a plate full of sweet cakes and breads and cookies, with one fancy gâteau each. Everything was seriously delicious, and it was more than obvious that butter was not in short supply in the Crillon baker's kitchen. We spent more than two hours around the coffee-sized table pretending to be part of a Jane Austen novel and relishing in the grandeur of the moment.

Just as we were leaving the hotel, we spotted Carine Roitfeld, editor-in-chief of French Vogue standing outside looking all fashionable and Parisienne - which for me was the icing on an already sweet day. Tea and knitting in the morning, afternoon tea at a fancy hotel, then I was off to a house party with friends. Just another day of life à la française! It really is too bad everyday can't be Saturday.

*tricopines = tricot copines, or knitting friends

Snippets of a beau weekend

Sunday, October 10, 2010

We had such a fun and sunny weekend that we barely managed to capture any respectable pictures. 'Guess that's what happens when you're having too much fun. But, here's a little recap of what we were up to along with the few pictures that we did sneak in.
Gui and I had some folks over on Friday night to share a magnum of Moët Impérial that's been chilling in the fridge for months now. We hadn't had a "special" occasion to merit drinking it before (do we really need one?), but we decided it was high time we cracked it open, so we invited some friends over to help us drink the 1.5 liters of champagne goodness. There was food, laughter and general debauchery, and really, what more can be asked for a Friday evening?

How about receiving a lovely goody package from home? My sister mailed me a box of stuff I'd ordered online and had delivered to her house, and when I got home Friday evening, it was waiting there for me to open it up. It felt like my birthday! Besides finally getting the three pairs of shoes and purse that I'd ordered months ago, my sister threw in a cute Texas t-shirt and some candy corn. But the best surprise was finding some handwritten love notes from my nephews in the box. Can they BE any sweeter?!

On Saturday, the sun came out in full force so Gui and I grabbed some lunch out and did a little window shopping before heading out to a family soirée. We caught up with the cousins, did a little dancing and enjoyed another round of champagne. It was a nice evening complete with red wigs and entertaining slide shows. You know, just another run-of-the-mill French family gathering.

We were blessed with another gorgeous day on Sunday, so I roamed the Champs Elysées with a friend in search of the perfect jeans. Coincidentally (ahem), I stumbled upon the newly opened H&M flagship and a huge sale at Gap in between having a caramel macchiato and warm cinnamon roll at Starbucks. Needless to say, I took a few treasures home with me from my little excursion on the Champs, and so ended the beautiful weekend!

I never feel like weekends are long enough, but this one seemed to be an exception. I think the Friday night shindig and the full days of sun helped, but I felt really revived and refreshed come Sunday evening. Which really does wonders for early Monday mornings. I know it's a lot to ask, but I'm really hoping these blue-skied days hold out - my weekdays could really use more beautiful weekends.
TEXAS SARAH. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.