An American Girl in Paris: Part Une

2 October 2017

It is hard to decide where to start and what to include. I hear voice of my high school art teacher ringing in my head: “Start at the beginning and end at the end.” I never found that advice to be helpful, but I digress. It is tricky to figure out what is important, what will stick with you, the reader, and what the dang point of this whole post will be. Like most things in life, I’m sure I’ll figure it out by the end.

September has been a wonderful blur. Like most periods in life, it went by in a flash but also felt like it spanned for six months. Paris has become my comfortable home, and I already feel like a local even though I can’t remember which arrondissement is which. It is vast, charming, intimidating, and I wish I could spend a few hours on every street.

I’ve already been to Aix-en-Provence. To London. To Giverny and Versailles. And even though some of these things leave me weary and in need for a long nap, I’m very, very glad to be visiting them.

Aix was quaint, nostalgic, and gave me a lot of time and room to think and heal. London was exciting (Tom Hiddleston!!!!!!!!!!!!!), enticing, and I was taken by it as always. Giverny was also quaint, magical, and lovely in every sense. Versailles was vast, awe-inspiring, and unbelievable (and now I am running out of adjectives).

I’m so excited to explore more of Europe. To visit so many places that have existed in my mind for long. Places that have been on my list for a long time. Lisbon, Berlin, Marrakech, hopefully Barcelona and Amsterdam. So much to explore, enjoy, and document.

It’s all been about finding my footing. Trying to develop a new routine, trying out new pretty places, trying to meticulously planning adventures, trying to budget while simultaneously trying to eat, trying to savor the moment, trying to push myself to be out in the world when I want to be sleeping. A lot of trying. And some failing, too.

A strange feeling of strangers lingers every day. In this city, nobody knows who I am. I never anticipate running into someone at a coffee shop or in a park. I’m still trying to figure out whether or not this is a welcome feeling. Some days, it feels so nice not to be expected to be a creative person in a creative community, but other days, the w3 in me is petrified that I am anonymous.

I feel more confident in myself. I can say that with certainty. I guess anonymity has it’s pros. Like how I can be anything to anyone, and they wouldn’t know otherwise. I can make this city my home, and I can start fresh, and nobody would get in the way of that. It is liberating, and something I haven’t been able to experience on this scale. Maybe Paris is home, or maybe it is the opposite of home.

The ironic part is I am also waaayyyyyy more socially anxious. A normal dose of social anxiety paired with a foreign language and a cool, stylish, intimidating people makes for a very nervous Abby. It’s easiest to be self-conscious about being American, speaking incredibly broken French, and taking up space. Tbqh, it is a nerve-wracking event for me to order food at a restaurant in the States, let alone attempting to do so in a foreign language/country (insert sweating emoji here). Each day is an exercise in assertiveness and not giving a fuck. I celebrate on the days when I am able to achieve one or both of those things, but feel timid on the days when I don’t.

There is also a little voice in the back of my head that is always reminding me that this is all going to be over. I have always wrestled with really appreciating the moment that I am in, or feeling a blow of sadness when a much anticipated experience comes to an inevitable end. As my wonderful friend Mel reminds me, “loss feels stronger than gain.” And I know that is true! Any moment when I’m admiring the city, I can’t help but think, “man, you’re really going to wish you were back in this moment when January rolls around.” I’m still trying to learn how to feel those moments of awe to the fullest without feeling anxious about it being over.

One of my dear friends messaged me yesterday and told me that this is the exact experience that I need at this point in my life. And she is so right. I wish that I could sit down with each one of you and tell you about the things I’ve been going through and the things I left behind in Chicago that make this time so life-giving (for those looking to know a bit more background info, I wrote a long ass journal entry on the shit storm that was this past April). I am a long-winded external processor, so I won’t go into full detail in writing, otherwise this would take up many, many pages.

Something that stays poignant throughout all of this is the recent death of my grandfather. As I have talked about previously, he suddenly passed away in August. Just a week after my family and I had visited him in fact. That was a hard one to get through, and I’m still getting through it. The reason my love for travel runs so deep is because of his love for travel and his generosity to extend that privilege to my family when I was wee. He knew how important traveling was to expand the mind, take in new information, and marvel at what is around us.

I wish that I could sum up September in a sentence like “what I’ve learnt this month is…” That is how I saw this going in my mind, however, now that I am at the end, I’m not sure if I have a big life lesson to take away. It feels odd to write without it. Is this passage purposeful without one? Who’s to say.

I guess the idea behind this came from the monthly playlists that I make. Ever since April of 2015, I put together a playlist of songs I’ve listened to that month. Some are long, some are tiny, some are incredible, some I can’t listen to anymore. Creating time capsules of sort for different stages of your life is very nostalgic and visceral. There are some playlists I’ll listen to and will immediately be taken back to that time of my life. I do the same thing with perfume. For that, the reaction is even more visceral because smell evokes memory so so much. 10/10 would recommend.

I had hoped to begin this monthly round-up with the month of August, but because of how quickly and stressfully the month ended, I never got to it in a timely fashion. So why not start now! Hopefully, if I find the will, this will continue even when I’m back from Paris.

If you’d like to be more up-to-date on a more detailed description of my time abroad, sign up for my newsletter. I am trying to send it out on a fortnightly basis, whereas I will probably be able to write for my blog on a monthly basis (excluding city guides that I plan to create after trips). I share a lot of fun details, as well as funny or good media I have been consuming. It’s a party! Hop on it.

I love Paris. I love the beauty that is around me. I love sitting in the Palais Royal and feeling protected from the world. I love getting lost and wandering. I love sitting on park benches and journaling. I love how much I have picnics. I love how much bread there is here. SO MUCH BREAD. I love how much of that bread I eat. I love the friends I’ve made, and I love how it makes me appreciate the friends I have scattered throughout the states. I love how easy traveling is. I love sharing this experience with you via pictures.

As always, thanks for sticking with me. I am very appreciative of you.

(Did anyone get the SATC reference of the title?!?)

< Next Post Previous Post >