Monday, October 20, 2008

My Movable Feast

The beauty of working in the french school system is the opportunity to take advantage of the vacation schedule. Next week I have ten days off for Toussaints, a religious holiday that begins November 1 – I guess you could call it the French Halloween, although thanks to globalization, this is also celebrated here. According to my assisting teacher at the college, the children love ‘American’ Halloween!

While I’ll be taking full advantage of the vacation to do some traveling, I have been able to visit two of my favorite places this month: Paris, and Luxembourg!

I went to Paris my second weekend in to meet with two writers who are involved with an online publication called BonjourParis.com. Walking down the rue de Rivoli, I once again felt that french je ne sais quoi, and in the tuilierie gardens I felt like I was watching the Parisian life, as children played in the bond with the wooden sailboats while their parents read les journeaux in the reclining chairs.

Margret and Cathy represent what seems to be a rather large community of english speakers in Paris (I would like to say expats, but Margret is English, and I think that term only applies to Americans living abroad). Cathy moved to the city of lights thirty years ago to join her mother, also a writer. (side note: her mother once asked Ernest Hemingway for an interview - he told her " I don't do interviews," and I just swooned) It was here that she became the assistant to someone invovled with People magazine before becoming involved herself, and now she is the managing editor of BonjourParis. Margret is a freelance writer living between Paris and London. To say I was inspired is an understatement – sitting in the Hotel Regina, sipping a glass of Bordeaux while the ladies drank what was said to be Louis XVI’s favorite mineral water, I was again (as it always is whenever I find myself in Paris) drawn to the desire to lead my own Parisian life.

Before we parted, I asked Cathy if she would ever consider moving bac k to the United States. She looked at me, thought about it for a few seconds and responded “I’ve thought about it, but I don’t know where I’d go.” It made me think of another response to that same question in Berlin, November of 2006. This time it was from the guide of the walking tour of Berlin, a twenty-something who had just spent four years in
Paris: “The thing about moving to another country is that it stops being an adventure a nd turns into real life.” And while these responses seemingly have nothing to do with each other, I think they have served to make me understand what living abroad means – for better or worse you give up some part of your native nationality in an attempt to not quite become a member o f a nother. As I type this, I realize it may seem a bit meloncholy, but in fact, I don’t think its sad, or conversly overly exciting. It means that you have a desire to explore, to be challenged and to be unconventional. And to me, that is beautiful.

Photo: an exhibit in the Tuilierie gardens of beautiful hand-blown glass cakes from the Louvre: "Oui! Les bateaux et les gateaux"

1 comment:

Becca said...

Kell-- I stumbled upon your blog via your facebook profile (I know, right?) and I must say, I've enjoyed every minute of it! Your writing is so eloquent and fluid, and I feel as if I'm experiencing these things with you! I'm excited to keep reading... I hope you're loving France as much as it seems that you are. I miss you!