Home sweet home

I live in Paris.

Actually, I have lived in Paris for a whole week now.

Craziness.

You know when you reach some milestone in your life and people ask you “Did you ever imagine yourself here five years ago?”. I NEVER imagined a life in Paris. I certainly did not imagine an amazing frenchman for a husband. And to be honest there were some tough times in life were it was difficult to imagine being happy for a prolonged period of time.

But here I am, and no, I never imagined I would be here.

Let’s start with the flight. I would personally like to thank my doctor for helping me cope with my anxiety of flying. A lot of people who don’t know me well find it strange that I have a pretty high anxiety about flying in planes. With all the traveling I do, it just doesn’t seem to make sense. I agree with these people. I once took over 15 flights in one year. I thought for sure surviving all those flights would prove something to my subconscious but alas, it has not and I am still convinced I will die on every flight I get on. But I have resigned myself to the fact that this will be (one of my many) burden(s) in life to deal with. I hate taking any type of medication but I am now a fan of generic Xanax as it made my life pretty awesome for the eight hours it took on two flights to get to my new home. Merci beaucoup, doctor!

“Welcome Home”

I arrived in Paris at 6:30am and ran straight into the arms of my hubby who I had not seen in over five weeks. I was a pretty happy girl 🙂

The weather forecast had predicted rain (as it has been doing for the last few months) but we stepped out into the sunshine and I kind of felt like that was my own personal welcome from the city of Paris herself. We made our way to our new home, a sublet in the area of Nation. My hubby was a bit nervous to show me the place as he had picked it out on his own and had the potential to be a bit smaller than most people would find comfortable. He had no reason to worry because I absolutely love it and find it to be utterly charming. Check out our window…

In Toronto we lived in a basement with no windows. This is a definite upgrade. And quite honestly I think that the charm of Paris will take a while to rub off for me and I will be happy with just about anything for the time being. And if you could walk down four flights of stairs and 15 meters (I’m in Europe now..) to the left to get this for breakfast, I think you would be ok with it too.

croissant and pain au chocolat – delish!

This first week has been filled with a lot of happiness. I have seen old friends, reconnected with even older friends, eaten a lot of ridiculously good cheese, drank some really good (but yet cheap) wine and spoke french that people have actually understood while understanding them at the same time.

But there has been some anxiety too. The first day I was on my own what I thought was the doorbell rang super loud and practically gave me a heart attack. Not because it was so loud but because thinking about answering the door and having to speak french and not understanding what someone was saying to me scared me straight. It was the first moment it clicked that I was in a french speaking country and not confident in my abilities to make it work. A little while later I ventured out for my first solo trip in the city and again, a wave of anxiety swept over me, “what if someone tries to talk to me?”, “what if I have no idea what they are saying?”, “what if I don’t know what to say back?”.

My fears were quickly extinguished when I remembered that no one in Paris talks to you so I really had nothing to worry about. But I found it odd, after traveling to a lot of countries where I don’t speak the language, and spending a few months in Paris two years ago, that I would even feel this fear. I guess I felt like now that I am a resident and no longer a tourist, I somehow had some obligation to the city to be a fluent speaker. Needless to say I am over that and now just accepting compliments when people are pleasantly surprised with what I know and laughing when I make a fool out of myself and show the doorman my bag when he didn’t ask to see it…..and all the other blunders sure to come.

“If you are brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a whole new world”

That little nugget of wisdom comes from a tweet by a man named Paulo Coelho. He wrote a book called The Alchemist that was like my bible when I first made the decision to travel. He is, in my opinion, a pretty wise man.

So today is the day. In just a few minutes I will go downstairs to have my “last breakfast” with the family and say our tear-filled goodbyes before I head to the airport and on to my new home in Paris. There are two things in life that never get easier with time, packing and saying goodbye. I hate doing both. But I take solace in the fact that I know this isn’t a permanent goodbye, just a “see you in a little while longer than I usually see you”. I will miss my family more than I think I can even comprehend right now, but I know that they will be with me always, loving me like crazy from far away and I will be doing the same.

Au revoir US of A….it’s been real.

The top ten(ish) things I’m going to miss about living in NH

In no particular order….

  • Being at the ocean in less than 20 minutes from my house, laying in the sand, listening to the waves crash, tasting the salt and feeling like there is nowhere else in the world I’d rather be
  • Having “girls’ night out” with my mom and sisters
  • Saying goodnight to my beautiful nephew and he tells me that he loves me more than the whole world
  • Looking at my niece give me the look of death because I interrupted her time with mommy, knowing that really (deep down inside) she is thinking that she loves me more than the whole world too
  • New England clam chowder / amazingly fresh seafood
  • sipping a cold one, chilling on the sofa of my little sister’s new apartment that I just helped her move into, chatting about nothing of importance
  • Eating peanut butter without feeling like a freak
  • Hugging as a social norm
  • Holding my niece in my arms, her precious little head resting on my shoulder, her arms draped around me as she falls peacefully to sleep
  • Speaking the same language as all the people around me
  • Driving in my old car with the windows down and music blasting, singing at the top of my lungs while other motorists think I must be having seizures
  • These amazing people that mean the world to me

Feeling like a fish out of water in the ocean

Makes perfect sense, right?

photo credit – camper4life.com

I have spent the last two and a half years living somewhere else. Whether it was traveling around the world or settling in Toronto for a year, I have been anywhere but small town New Hampshire, USA.

But this is where my family is and this is the place I called home for almost twenty-seven years of my life. This is the place where I took my first steps, said my first words, went to school, had my first boyfriend, learned to drive a car, graduated college, had my first (and only) career, tried surfing, tried running, went hiking, camped, biked, ate, slept, cried, laughed, breathed. This was the place where my life happened.

And then I left.

Not because I had anything against New Hampshire, but I wanted to see the world. To be a part of something bigger. And ultimately, to appreciate where I come from. I did all of that and then some. I think if I had never gone away I wouldn’t have realized how beautiful NH is with the mountains, the ocean and the city all within an hours drive. If I hadn’t left I wouldn’t have known what it meant to pick up the phone on a lazy Saturday afternoon to see if my sisters were free to hang out or if I could cuddle with my beautiful nephew. If I didn’t leave I wouldn’t have known what it was like to get sick in a foreign country and have my mom a million miles away (because moms always make you feel better, no matter how old you are). If I had stayed I would have never fully understood what an amazing, supportive, loving, generous, caring family I am blessed to be a part of.

I had to leave and I am a better person for it.

But I find myself back in my hometown after two and half years away, waiting for the official paperwork to get to my next destination. Remember those loving, supportive family members I told you about? Luckily they keep letting me come back to live at home whenever I am “in between” places. (Yeah, I’m that kid) I love coming home. I love being with my family. I love spending quality time with some of my favorite people in the whole world.

But something is different this time. Something feels off. This place that was once so familiar to me, so intimately tied to who I am, no longer feels like home. I know it’s my home because my family is here, but this place I grew up in suddenly feels like I have out-grown it. And it’s a very bittersweet feeling.

A large part of this feeling comes from the fact that a few months ago I made a commitment to another person to share the rest of my life with him and to become our own family. And he isn’t here. He is in Paris, where the next chapter of my life is waiting to be written. I am not so disillusioned to think that Paris is going to feel instantly like home. With all the world around me speaking another language that I have not quite grasped yet, I am sure to feel, once again, like a fish out of water. But I have faith that over time, as I learn the language and acclimate myself to the culture, that Paris will start to feel like a place where I can put down my roots and continue growing as a person.

No one and nothing could, or ever will, replace my family and what they mean to me. Being with them will always be the most cherished time I will spend on this earth. But it’s time to once again pack up everything I own and head out to the next adventure, knowing that my home will be wherever I make it and that my family will only continue to grow as I carry my own family in my heart and make room for my new family in France. It’s a wonderful blessing to know that you are loved on both sides of the Atlantic,  and while I may struggle with what defines my home in the time to come, I will never forget where I come from and the people who have shaped my life profoundly. And I will never stop marveling at the opportunity to create my home wherever I go.

A whole lot of catch up

Let’s not focus on the obvious which is that I severely lack the consistency and effort to maintain an interesting and exciting (up-to-date) blog that people actually want to follow. Instead, let’s focus on my aspirations and ambitions to get better at this.

I really detest writing “catch up” blogs. Probably because I find myself writing them so often. I really enjoy writing about much more interesting things then, “First we did this, then we did this, now we are doing this and soon we will be doing this”….blah, blah blah. Instead, I present to you a quick bullet list of all the goings on for the last month and a half and then we can all move forward in life (because I know you have all been stagnant in your lives waiting to hear about mine…)

  • The hubby and I wrapped up our two and a half month long cross-country honeymoon on May 20th. (I wish I could say you could read all about this on our joint blog but we are super slackers there as well and only have up to California done….)
  • Two days later I applied for my Spousal Visa to make the big move to Paris!
  • Two days and twenty minutes later I found out shortly after my arrival in Paris I will have an interview with immigration that will be conducted entirely in french. Yikes!
  • Four days later my hubby left to go back to Paris.
  • Four days and twenty minutes later I really missed him.
  • Five days later I found out a decision had been made in regards to my visa but not sure what it is….
  • Eight days later I bought a ticket to Paris anyways because I cannot wait to get back there and I believe in the power of positive thinking. July 1st can’t come soon enough!

And here we are, fourteen days later and my days are filled with enjoying the time I have with my family and friends before I put the Atlantic ocean between us for an undetermined amount of time. Oh, and lots of super serious french studying because I am a little panicky about this impending interview. There are so many emotions associated with this big move, but I can honestly say that I am more and more excited each day and look forward to all the new, exciting, challenging experiences that await me across the pond.

A few things…

It seems that I completely forgot anyone might read this blog and have neglected to do anything with it for the last month or so. Opps!

Some important things have happened in that time. For starters I got married, but more important my hubby and I have started our two and a half months travel around the US. In fact, we are half way through already. I guess you could say we are taking an extended “lune de miel”, which literally translates to moon of honey in French. I think it’s cute 🙂

We have been posting pictures on our joint blog “Away we go”, and will continue to do so as we finish up the second half of travels. You can click here to see the pics of where we have been thus far, as well as a few of our wedding. Once our travels are over I will get back to posting more regularly here as there are lots of exciting things happening in our lives, including the big move to France the end of June!

O Canada

I don’t have any time to write as we are heading out the door with our back packs in about a minute and a half…but seeing as this is my last few moments in Toronto and for that matter, Canada, I thought it appropriate to say farewell the best way I knew how.

Here’s to you Canada. You have treated me as a welcome guest and made me feel like family. I will miss you, and everything that is you, deeply. Until next time, eh?

*for those that might be confused, the first part of the anthem is in french. It is one of their national languages after all.

A bag full of milk?

I’ll admit I struggled a bit to find major differences between the US and Canada while living in Toronto. And while I’m sure I have just offended many natives of both countries with that statement, there is no denying the two are quite similar (besides their stereotypes, of course).

But one thing you will NEVER find in the US is a bag of milk.

After almost a whole year living in Canadian territory, we have finally experienced this phenomenon in their culture. We have bought bagged milk and consumed it (yikes!). As an American, I found it extremely bizarre and pretty much refused to buy the necessary equipment to make it possible to consume bagged milk (you need a pitcher and a proper “milk bag cutter” to make it all work). But a dear friend, who knows of my fiancé’s child-like excitement at this strange custom, gave us the milk container and proper bag cutter to make his wish come true. What could I do but give in and see what this ridiculousness was all about. I am not a big milk drinker to begin with but I’ll admit milk in a bag tastes just like milk in a carton or jug. In fact, not only does it taste the same but it is more economical in these troubling financial times. You can buy 4 litres at one time (roughly a gallon), in three separate bags so it will last longer. The price is cheaper per litre AND all the plastic is reusable/recyclable. I still think it’s weird but I suppose someone could say the same about a lot of the things we consume in the US (insert fried butter here).

A funny thing happened on the way home last night…

Well, technically it wasn’t last night but a little over two weeks ago.

And it wasn’t actually on the way home, it was at home.

Honestly, it wasn’t funny either.

But who cares about the details….I just liked the title 🙂

drum roll please……….

My french lover of two years proposed!! and of course I said “oui!”. No really, I actually said “oui” because he asked me in french.

As little girls, we all imagine our prince charming getting down on one knee and asking us to live happily ever after. As a little girl I might have imagined this, but as a slightly older girl, I really did not believe in marriage. I come from a broken home and too many of my friends have been married and then divorced in the last few years for me to think there is any validity to “till death due us part”. Cynical, I know, but that is how I felt. I stopped imagining happily ever after and starting believing in the commitment more then the marriage (or wedding, as I feel the idea of life long marriage is often confused with a one day wedding). I no longer envisioned a white wedding dress, with cute flower girls, walking down the aisle of a church, but instead thought I would be content to spend my life with a person I found to be a compatible partner.

I found all this and more, one fateful day in Sydney, Australia when Nico introduced himself  to me in our hostel room at “The Strand”. Roughly six weeks of traveling together I had this overwhelmingly calm feeling that I had met the man I wanted to spend my life with. I was blissfully happy and content. It wasn’t until months later, while reading the follow up to Eat.Pray.Love entitled Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert, that I realized spending my life with a Frenchman would require some legal commitment at some point if we wanted to be in the same country together. In her follow-up to the international best seller E.P.L., Elizabeth dives head first into an intriguing discourse meant to analyze, critique and expose this institution of marriage we have all been force-fed through out our lives. I appreciated her voice and found comfort in her struggles to come to terms with marriage as a necessity to be with the one she loved. While I still struggled with the notion of being forced into a union, there was no denying that I wanted nothing more than what this union was meant to promise, a life with the man I loved.

So here we are, engaged, and aside from how it might sound, I am really very happy and look forward to the adventures yet to come, which are not far around the corner as actually getting married proves to be harder than coming to terms with it to begin with!