This is a clip from one of my favorite movies, Paris, Je T’aime. This following clip is from an American woman who travels to Paris for the first time and experiences a very powerful, moving emotion. She is sitting alone in a park in Paris, thousands of miles away from her family, friends, job, and everything she knows, when she is suddenly overcome with both intense joy and sadness (though not too much sadness) at the same time. She explains that at that moment, she realized she had fallen in love with Paris, and that Paris has come to accept and love her, too.
September was exciting, October was emotionally hard, I began to find my stride in November, and now in December, I cannot even remember where I was back in October. When you read about people’s experiences as an expat or a nomad, they usually only tell you the good things. They either omit emotional posts, sugarcoat their stories, or, like me, forget what a hard time they were having just a few short months or weeks beforehand. For the moment, Toulon finally feels like home. I have my routine– I have my TAPIF job at the high school, my job at Playschool, a gym I attend, a conversation group I look forward to every week, and new friends I see daily or weekly. I have developed relationships and friendships with my colleagues, and I have an extended network of friends and family in Peynier, Lille, Caen, Paris, Versailles, Carbonne, and Toulouse. I’m also traveling almost every weekend, which is what rejuvenates me and gives me purpose; Finally, I bike to work everyday– I’ve lost almost ten pounds since arriving. Most importantly, I made the leap to move into a better apartment come January. Overall, I feel more confident and at ease. Although I’ve been quite happy for a while, I finally am taking the chance to reflect on these emotions.
About two weeks ago, I was, like almost every Monday, at the cafe where couch surfers from around the area come to indulge in 2 euro wine and converse in whatever language they fancy. As I was relaxing in a comfy chair, surrounded by friends from the USA, Canada, France, Spain, England, Germany, and Italy, I, like Carol, had a moment of both happiness and sadness (but not too much sadness.) I realize that even though I am far from everyone and everything I’ve known for 24 years, I embrace how happy I am here in France and how much I love France–and France loves and accepts me too. I have successfully built a sustainable life for myself here in the south of France, even if it is just for a little while.
As the holiday season finally takes full swing, I cannot help but to become a bit depressed that the TAPIF finish line is going to look a lot closer come 2014. But for the moment, I’m just trying to live, and to be, because this state of mind, this confidence, and this happiness that has come across me and spread into my soul is exactly where I am supposed to be right now.