The April I first vacationed in Paris – the one where I lived in a Sorbonne professor’s top-floor apartment near the Gare du Nord; the one where I met a Frenchman and experienced a coup de foudre; the month, that really, changed everything – I told a friend that I felt I had just lived an entirely different life.
You have, she said.
I feel kind of like that now.
It would be impossible to encapsulate over three weeks back on home soil, but I can tell you I feel different. There are reminders of who I used to be here, pieces of myself I’ve lost, aspects of my personality I want to regain.
As beautiful as Paris is, and as much as the (mostly invented) image of the bohemian writer may appeal, it is really here that I feel free.
I’ve appreciated having my loud laugh celebrated, rather than scorned, random smiles from strangers on the street. I saw a 70-year old man tattooed from head to toe, made friends in line at Trader Joe’s.
Paris has become home, but it wasn’t until I stepped back here that I realized I’ve actually been holding my breath, that the discreet city has quieted me. Sometimes you have to leave the country of “c’est pas possible” for the land of “yes we can.”
Perhaps I’ll provide little snippets of my adventures over the coming weeks, because really, it’s hard to sum up. New York embraced me. Vermont invigorated me. From the buzzing city to a little hotbox of creativity, I am nearly full to bursting with inspiration.
Today New York celebrates its version of Bastille Day on 60th Street.
I think I’ll wait for the real deal on July 14 when I will just have arrived back to Paris.
Despite what I’ve been saying here, I’m looking forward to going back. I’m packing my smile and renewed strength with me, though. I prefer who I am in America. Can I be that American in Paris?