Bonjour encore

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Place de la Concorde in Paris on New Year’s Eve

I know. I’ve been slipping. I slipped.

My goal was to write this blog semi-regularly and even though I haven’t had the time, I didn’t. Coincidentally, this seems like the perfect time to start up again.

New Year’s is not just a time to—pardon the pun—renew, but it’s also a holiday. Much of the memorable moments I’ve had since my last post have revolved around holidays.

Take Thanksgiving. As I’ve mentioned, I studied in Nice two years ago, so this wasn’t my first Thanksgiving away from my family. That, combined with the fact that it’s not a holiday in France made me less longing for home. Continue reading

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Racism like Death

Norman Rockwell’s “The Problem We All Live With”

This past Sunday, I sat in the Evreux cathedral, contemplating.

I anticipated the moment when a woman or man would come down the aisle with a small basket and look me in the eye, waiting for a donation. I, like always, would refuse them.

But why? Why could I not donate even a cent? Why had I never even allowed my(adult)self to do it?

What good reason did I have to deny God my money?

Continue reading

Building a home

The view from my apartment, of the Gare d'Evreux (the train station).

The view from my apartment, of the Gare d’Evreux (the train station).

Now I myself live in an apartment building, and there is a compassion and acceptance you have to have for a certain level of annoyance. It’s people in close proximity to each other, and so there will be some things that you don’t like, and still have to let go.

Cecil Baldwin, Welcome to Night Vale

There is a freedom to living on your own. A freedom that everyone should enjoy, for at least a little while.

There is something to be said about coming home to a place just as you left it, of being able to put into it exactly what you want, how you want. No permission has to be asked for company, or volume or dirty dishes.

But just because you are not living with someone does not mean you are living alone. An apartment resides in an apartment building made up of other people. Which means, you are still technically sharing. Continue reading

Bon voyage

Panoramic view from my AirBnB's living room.

Panoramic view of Evreux from my AirBnB’s living room.

Everyone and everything is interconnected in this universe.
Stay pure of heart and you will see the signs.
Follow the signs, and you will uncover your destiny.
Jeff, 
Jeff, Who Lives at Home

It is Sunday, my first Sunday in Evreux, France. I have five days of travel and the resulting jet lag behind me and finally feel good enough to start writing in my third travel journal.

Before me is the setting sun, pulling back from centuries-old rooftops. The cathedral spires are the tallest things in this valley besides the green rolling hills.

Just a week ago, I had cried after seeing off my friends for the last time. I had held back until I was at the airport gate leaving for Philadelphia before shedding tears over my parents.

But as that plane flew over the Chesapeake Bay, and then another over the Atlantic Ocean, I couldn’t suppress the very tangible sense within me that I was moving on to something momentous. Continue reading

Wander·lust

With my friends at my farewell party. I'm the one in white looking into the distance. Courtesy of my uncle.

With my friends at my farewell party. I’m the one in white looking into the distance. Photo courtesy of my uncle.

*In less than a week, I am leaving for Evreux, France to begin my stint in the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF).

“Are you excited?” my co-worker asks me.

I cannot answer, confused. “About what?” It’s nine in the morning and I only have eight hours of work to look forward to.

“…Leaving the country…”she inflects as her voice trails off, bewilderment buried in her question.

It occurs to me that it is something worth noting, my leaving.

Every time I think about going, I find myself back on a thin twin mattress looking at the calendar I brought from home. Under the Niçoissun, everything is in shades of orange and pink. Mediterranean air infuses the wooden floors, the plastered walls. Even with the floor-to-almost-ceiling windows shuttered, it is inescapable.

To fill in the time after X-ing out the previous day, I count how many weeks, then how many days, until I board a plane back to the U.S. Even after all the math, it is still Thursday. I count how many weekends are left. A minute has passed. Three minutes go by as I work over the two weeks until I my perilous personal vacation to the British Isles, the five days before final exams after that, the 72 hours between my last exam and my last 23 Saint-Laurent-du-Var Gare bus to the airport. The tightness I feel staring at the Xs is, I hope, the closest I will ever know to being buried alive. There is no way out but time.

There are many English words I am uncomfortable using—envy, regret, nostalgia—they tie together too simply labyrinths of emotions and events. “Culture shock” in my experience is not so much a sudden sensation as it is the steady discovery of detached realities at the macro level (as opposed to the micro, individual realities that one encounters every day). Wanderlust, though, I think the Germans got right. Continue reading