Yesterday I picked up my new carte de sejour. Ah, one more year of sweet legal residence is mine!
I’m not sure what special juju I’ve got working for me, but Paris is just being so good to me right now.
The prefecture, for instance, has never been one of my favorite places. (It has, in fact, been the site of much pain).
But yesterday a smiling guard greeted me. Yes – smiling.
“You must smile, too, Madame. No smile, no pass,” he said in a jocular way that made my jaw drop. How wonderful to actually be instructed to smile in Paris! And in the Prefecture of Police no less.
Next I entered the courtyard. A massive construction site awaited. I couldn’t immediately see how to get around the barriers to my correct salle. A friendly construction worker came over of his own accord and pointed the way through the rubble. (I wasn’t wearing revealing clothing, in case anyone was wondering).
I picked up my card without a hitch.
I’m not what you’d call New Agey, but I do believe that what you put out to the universe often comes back to you. It’s a matter of physics, too: energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only transformed from one state into another.
Positive energy (at least in my interactions with Parisians) seems to be feeding on itself lately. I’m now receiving customer service. People smile back at me. I no longer receive (as many) reprimands for my fumbling foreigner ways. Same amount of energy, it just seems to have swung from negative to positive.
I don’t want to jinx this jovial run by talking about it too much, but I do have my theories.
When I first moved to Paris I was open and ready for adventure (who else buys a one-way ticket to a country where they don’t speak the language, has no job in sight, and moves in with someone they spent less than three weeks with? Yeah, me).I was soon disheartened, however. My smile was rebuffed, my loud laugh scorned, my efforts to speak French ridiculed. It wasn’t from lack of trying that the “positive thoughts” route didn’t seem to work. The confident, independent woman l had become in New York shriveled by the day.
So what changed? Somewhere in the past few months I’ve slipped into a full acceptance of where I am. While yes, before I was open to what was happening in Paris, I still held onto this yearning for New York. While yes, I was making every effort to build a life here – and I did, finding a “real” job, learning the language, even getting hitched! – I still wasn’t sure that this was really where I would stay.
And then, ’round about year three, it just sort of happened. Paris became home. I stopped constantly comparing the city to where I had come from. I didn’t take hurtful comments so much to heart. I put my sneakers back on, let loose my loud American laugh and stopped caring what people thought. Because this is who I am, and I live here, too, damn it.
I think the Parisians might have picked up on this. Somehow they know I’m no longer a temporary visitor, but someone who’s sticking around.
Of course, I’ve been on the expat rollercoaster long enough that I know this high might not last. But it serves as a nice reference point, and boy, will I hold onto these moments when I’m down.
It hardly felt like bureaucracy picking up my residency card yesterday, but we do still have another outstanding bureaucratic issue. The double taxation problem had finally seemed to reach resolution, but just this week it came roaring back into our lives. Jerome’s been dealing with this one (hey, I have enough paperwork to deal with, he’s in charge of the taxes for his own country!), but I almost felt tempted to step in. Maybe he just doesn’t have the same positive juju working for him right now.
But I decided against it. I mean, this juju probably has its limits. If there’s only so much energy in the world, there’s only so much to go around. No need to push my luck, right?