Paris! I’ve returned!
Yes, after a month’s sojourn Stateside I’m back in the City of Light.
But just what was I doing away for so long?
Well, falling back in love with my American home, to be honest.
The trip stirred up a lot of feelings for me. Just when I thought I was settled (and incredibly satisfied!) in Paris, New York had to go and work her old charm on me.
Oh, this. THIS.
That was my reaction as soon as I stepped back into the city. I was flooded with my overwhelming love for the place: the energy, diversity, the possibilities just teeming in the streets.
I also felt lighter. The layer is invisible – I’ve gotten so used to wearing it I must have forgotten it was even there, but I instantly felt a weight lift from my shoulders. I’m not a fish out of water. I’m home.
I’ve navigated my way around Paris pretty well, but New York reminded me what it really feels like to be fully myself. I’m more free, confident. The city just makes me smile.
It didn’t hurt that it was mostly good weather and each time I checked in on Paris it was cold and raining. Status updates from my Paris friends bemoaned the solid wall of gray rain. There may not be a song called “April in New York” but I know I was in the right place at least for that month.
But! This is not a down-on-Paris post (though I am reading the new book Paris I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down and snorting with recognition), but just an honest assessment: this trip made me homesick. It’s the first time in awhile that I’ve returned to Paris and not been excited – I was really sad to leave city, family, and friends behind in the States.
I see this as an opportunity, though. Life isn’t static, is it? Or if it is – if we feel stuck – that’s no good, either. So this is a chance to reevaluate again. What do I need to be happy? What does the dream life look like? If I’m not fulfilled, what can I do so that I am?
For the record, even in my blissful New York euphoria I still couldn’t imagine living full-time in the city again. And I definitely couldn’t imagine leaving Paris any time soon. But a new dream seemed to be forming: I need to get back here more often. What if I tried to divide my time?
All of this is vague, fluffy notions in my mind (though a lot of good stuff comes from vague, fluffy notions if you respect the process and allow space and time!)
It does motivate me to find and create more meaning in my Paris life. I mean, I don’t need to list all its wonders. I’m crazy grateful to live here. But I realized that for me Paris is beauty and New York is buzz. Buzz as in energy, a hum, an inexplicable call to life. So beauty and buzz – I want both!
Before I return to Paris posts, just a quick word about what made April so special. The month was bookended by two incredible events I was thrilled to attend.
In the beginning of April my writing mentor/friend/one of my favorite people/basically I consider her family Sarah Van Arsdale launched her third novel, Grand Isle. I’ll try to write a whole separate post about Sarah sometime because she is just that awesome. (So is her book! Check it out!)
In her unending generosity, Sarah invited me to not only her launch party, but a radio interview, and the Publishing Triangle Awards, plus dinner with literati afterwards. She’s always helped me along the writing/life path.
Then at the end of the month I went down to DC for my sister’s investiture ceremony. Investiture isn’t a word I was familiar with, but apparently this is a common word in French as everyone I spoke to before leaving knew exactly what I was talking about.
So what am I talking about?
My sister is now an associate judge (the YOUNGEST judge!) in DC Superior Court. I was there for her ceremony when she officially got robed.
Um, yeah. That’s a presidential appointment. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton personally signed her commission.
Good holy! How amazing is that?
No photos were allowed in the courthouse (or her roomy chambers!), but let’s just say, impressed doesn’t begin to cover it.
What’s hilarious is that they mentioned the family (including me!) in the introduction. My other sister had also flown in (from Bahrain!). Judge Sister (what a trip hearing people call your sister “your honor”) kept saying she was the “boring” sister. Um, right. Foreign destinations do not supersede important appointments in the nation’s capital, your honor. In fact, I’d say the bar has now been set dangerously high. (Here I am jumping to try to reach it!)
As you can see, a full month to catch both events was in order. And in between….
Oh, in between I simply soaked up every second. I didn’t take that many photos in general; I was too busy just experiencing being back.
Here’s a video from one of my favorite projects: Humans of New York is a photographic census of the city, one street portrait at a time. This video is cool, but I like the Facebook (or Tumblr) page better. There you get a caption to accompany the photo – and the story is often as awesome as the shot. The project got the front page of the Wall Street Journal today, but I’ve been following along for a few months now. The diverse, colorful photos are a very happy addition to my life.
Thanks for indulging me in my journey through New York. I figure this: New York was my first love. Most people don’t stay with their first love forever, but you never forget them. The first love is special.
Love you, New York.
Love you, too, Paris. I promise I have not forsaken you.
You? First love? Or fluffy, vague notions you’re trying to bring into the light?