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four years.


Last night on our drive back home from the suburbs, off in the distance on an open field, pink, red and silver fireworks were exploding furiously into the night. Trying to guess what the celebration was about, we fell flat on ideas. Mid-September doesn't exactly ring any bells. Perhaps a farewell to summer? That's hardly something to celebrate about, even if I do love autumn. Turning to Aurel, I asked him what the date was and when he told me that it was the 15th of September, it was then that I knew exactly what the hullabaloo was about. September 15th marks my four year anniversary in Paris and obviously there was a firework extravaganza to commemorate it! Oh France, you shouldn't have.


While I want to say that I can't believe it has already been four years and time really does have its way of slipping through your fingers, these four years were so dense with experience, at times stuck in a quagmire of difficult decisions, surprises, and inconveniences, that I don't feel that they just flew by. A lot of shit has happened and as odd as it may sound, I'm kind of thankful for all of it. I could never appreciate all the good things that have come my way in these past four years if I don't recognize some of the challenges that have been set before me.

Not too long ago, I was accused of changing since I had moved to France and that I am not the same person I was ten years ago. Not sure how to even feel, I marinated on this "accusation" for a bit. Resisting the urge to immediately rectify the situation with an apology, I stopped and asked myself, what would I exactly be apologizing for? After everything I had been through (things that could have happened anywhere in the world, so let's not totally blame Paris here), of course I have changed! There should be no shame in that. I certainly hope I have evolved from my 22-year-old self because damn, I was pretty stupid. Oh please, what am I talking about? I've done some dumb things here as well! The sublet robbery of 2011 would so not have happened had I been a little more sharp and less trusting of a 20-year-old who thought a tilted-head-duck-lip photo of herself was appropriate representation for her CV. I still take 50% blame in that mess.

On these Francoversaries, I like to look back on all of the adventures of this life abroad. I honestly didn't think I would make it this far as I sort of just picked up and came here without much security. Indulging in flashbacks, I remember my first week here, settling into my sublet at La Motte-Picquet, questioning my plan and why I was even here, and feeling both excitement and fear for not having any answers...or that much money, to my first full year of feeling proud that I had made it while still scraping by and wondering if there would be a two year anniversary, to now, finally feeling settled in a simple life in Paris. I really have grown so much over the past four years and that doesn't make me better or even smarter, just aware and secure with the knowledge that without love in a dream it'll never come true.

Breaking my weekly wine fast, I will treat myself to a glass of bubbly after work. Cheers and Happy Anniversary! Here is to another year in Paris to me and to all of the other hopefuls who arrived once upon a time in September....

Here's a peek at last year's Francoversary
It was a little more colorful than this years...

22 comments:

  1. Happy anniversary! Good grief though, I would hope I'm not like I was in my early 20s o.O

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    1. Thank you Katy! Exactly. I thought it was a GOOD thing to not be how you were ten years ago, especially when ten years falls into our 20s. Yikes. I guess those were some weird times for everyone!

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  2. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!

    One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say this or that person or I have changed. I certainly hope people change. How else are we supposed to grow?

    Great post! And cheersing you with my morning tea from PA to another 4+ years of fabulousness in Paris!

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    1. Thanks Alyson!!

      Right, it is so silly to "accuse" someone of changing. Of course people change! Normally the person who is shaming someone for changing is someone who is stuck somewhere in their life. I was aware enough to look at the source and see why they had said to me, but still, it was pretty annoying. Thanks for getting it. : )



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  3. I definitely don't want to be the same person i was 10 years ago!

    At the end of the day, everyone changes, some for the good and some for the bad. Once the individual is happy with the transition and change they made in THEIR life, screw everyone else.

    Happy anniversary :) You've made it through 4 years in France. I'm glad you made the decision to move. You have provider us, your readers with a wonderful blog full of adventures with various feelings and emotions.

    Awaiting the book and the movie of Ella Coquine :) :)

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    1. Hahahaha! Who would want to be the same person they were 10 years ago? Scary stuff.

      These past four years, I have really cut out a lot of the fat in regard to the company I keep. I have finally learned that quality really does trump quantity and if you only have a handful of true friends, well then you are pretty rich.

      Thank you for the happy anniversary wishes and for reading the blog; enjoying snippets of my life in France!

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  4. Happy four year anniversary! You just made me think that next week will be my six year anniversary! Granted, there were some (long) pauses back in the US, but it was usually waiting for my next visa.

    And France does change a person. Living abroad anywhere for an extensive period of time would change anyone. And we also grow up. If I were still the same person when I arrived in France at 22, I would be quite ashamed. Plus, I'd probably be broken by now and back home. I've learned to stand up for myself quite a bit and have learned how to get things done when it comes to French admin!

    To many more!

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    1. Thank you Shannon!

      I had a feeling you were a September arrival as well. Happy 6 year anniversary! Wow! Look how far you've come! I had some American pauses awaiting visas as well which I think is still being in France because we were knee deep in their bureaucracy!

      France has taught me as well to stand up for myself (you sort of have to!) To keep the peace, I used to take crap from people and after these challenging four years, I now address things as I see them like an adult. I think that's a change some people from my former life don't appreciate. I say oh well.

      Thank you again for your comment and here's to many more years in this crazy country!

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  5. Congrats, Sweets!:) You've come a long way!:) And thank God for valleys that make us enjoy the peaks even more:) And thank God also for true friends who can be with us through both and who will uplift us or be inspired by our adventures. Who needs naysayers so unhappy with their own lives that they want to crush other people's spirit and drag them down?

    This does call for bubbly on a school night!:)Santé!:)

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    1. here here....I agree with the Duchesse....you have lived more life in the past 4 years than most do in a lifetime....keep on keeping on!

      all the best and hope to get over there in the near future...need me some Paris..it's been too long.

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    2. @Duchesse - I most certainly had my bubbly (2 x's!) this week! At an art opening au Musee du Quai Branly and last night at Fashion's Night Out. Good times. I'll fill you in on them tomorrow. : )

      I love this: "valleys that make us enjoy the peaks even more" So poetic and so true.

      And here's to true friends! What is life if we aren't allowed to change? As you can see, I'm still confused by this accusation but you are right, it's the unhappy people who shame generally happy people into feeling bad for it. Tant pis pour eux.

      @Deb - Aww, Deb. Thank you so much for this fantastic comment! I will read back on it when someone tells me that it's not that big of a deal that I left my life, job, kitty and "home" to figure out a life abroad alone. I don't deserve a metal or anything but just a little slack if I'm not the same girl I was at 22 waiting tables at a Hollywood coffee shop.

      I do hope you make it over soon! I have met most of the readers of this blog, it's only you and a handful of others who I have yet to meet. I'm hoping to change that in the near future. Come. to. Paris!!!!

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  6. Happy francoversary!

    I love that you didn't apologize for changing - life changes us.... some more than others or at different rates but it's inevitable. As long as you're happy with the direction you're heading, you're in the right.

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    1. I totally agree Jay that some change more than others... Those who experience life in a different culture definitely change more than those who never leave their hometown.

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    2. Hi Jay! Thank you! It's so true. Life does change us and I find that it's the more difficult experiences that make the most impact in molding us. After these crazy four years, if I hadn't changed, something would be really wrong. Thank you for your comment!

      @Duchesse - Staying in one environment (especially where you were raised) really can stump growth. Not always but quite often. I see it when I go back home where I feel like I am still in high school with girls who are supposed to be friends talking terribly about one another. I dared to ask the question, "If you don't like "so and so" why not just terminate the friendship?", I was told that would be rude, so calling "so and so" a every terrible name under the sun behind her back is a much "kinder" option. I'm scratching my head right now.

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  7. Felicidades! I just had my sixth Spaniversery last Friday - amazing how time passes!

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    1. Thank you, Cat! And congratulations on six years in Spain!
      : )

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  8. Félicitations ! I also just celebrated my fourth anniversary in France.

    I, too, have been accused of having changed, like it's a crime or something. I, too, have heard, "You think you know everything now because you live in France!" I agree with what the other posters said, that living abroad changes you more than staying at home. I think that a lot of people who are saying these things are just insecure with their own lives.

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    1. Thank you and congratulations on YOUR 4 year anniversary! We must have arrived at CDG around the same time. On that day I was actually wondering if there were other Americans in the airport making this huge leap. Since I only heard French speakers around me, I assumed I was alone. Now knowing that had arrived around the same time, I guess I wasn't. : )

      Well I am kind of relieved that I am not the only one who has been accused of changing. I wasn't sure if I was going to add that bit because I didn't want to add a negative aspect to such a positive post, but in the end, I thought it was important. I had a feeling you all would relate. Thank you once again for not making me feel like the crazy one!

      Thanks again for your comment and I hope you celebrated this week! : )

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    2. I can't remember the exact date that I came, but I think it was around September 9th. It was definitely before the 14th because on the 14th I drove to Bordeaux to start my new life. So it sounds like you arrived about a week after me.

      Don't worry about sounding negative - it's nice to know that I'm not the only one receiving backlash for having changed even though I'm sorry you have.

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  9. It's so nutty that you arrived in France only eleven days before me! Happy fourth to us! x

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    1. Happy fourth anniversary to you, too!

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