Luna isn’t improving. In the past week, she’s had numerous episodes with whatever odd condition may be plaguing her. I’m convinced it’s depression at my absence, and that thought really does break my heart. But it’s okay; my flight back is December 7th. She will have her mum again, and we will see how frequently the episodes occur from then on.
I’m going to have to let go of Paris.
And, you know what, I’m really okay with that.
Who in this life can say they had the opportunity to live in the city of their dreams? I did what I had dreamt of doing for eight years. I did what used to make me cry at night, thinking it may never happen. I did what I read numerous memoirs about, wishing myself into the shoes of the authors. I did that. I made that happen. I’m immersed in it. I am continuously awed and joyous and feeling ultimately blessed each time I step out the front door of my apartment building. I wrote this on my Facebook page:
“I walked out my apartment door just to get groceries around the corner and it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve done this walk before, it still makes my heart race. I cannot believe I’m living here. I am so in love with you, Paris. I am endlessly grateful that I get to experience this (no matter how long or short it may be). I won’t take a second for granted. I will love you as deeply as can for as long as I can. And I’ll carry with me the memories of you for as long as I live. The imprint you’ve made on my soul will be a part of my legacy. You have changed me. I am changed. I adore you.”
I know it sounds so cliche but I truly believe that Paris isn’t just a place but a state of mind. Paris lives on in me and I can bring that to wherever I call home. And with having lived here, I have a few expectations for what I plan to call home, back in Canada:
- I refuse to live in a carbon-copy suburban neighbourhood
- I need my morning views to inspire me
- I want a small space to remind me of the simplicity of Parisian living
- I want the closest bookstore or my go-to grocery store to be within walking distance of my place
- In general, I want to walk more places and appreciate the journey, not just the destination
- I want water, or mountains, or both — I’ll even settle for some escarpment
- I want to consistently set aside time for weekend adventures or long-distance travels
- I don’t want to forget that life isn’t about work
- I want to make more of an effort to sit on a patio and take life slow
- I want to find ways to speak Italian and French more, on a daily basis
I’ve also gained a greater appreciation for Canada in the process, and I’m only 39 days into this journey (I still have 65 to go). For example:
- Everything here, whether it’s work or bill-related or filing for something or returning something to a store is a freaking workout. Nothing. Is. Simple. Everything gets a, “Hmm, I’m not sure,” or a, “Uhh… that will take some time.”
- The pay is not comparable to the cost of living, at all. Unless you’re a lawyer or a doctor or work in the high scale positions of finance, you’re really making squat for your worth. In Canada, though house prices are rather absurd, at least salaries match the living costs and buying food (other than baguettes, wine, and cheese – the gold standard of the food world) doesn’t make you want to rip your hair out. We may have exuberant taxes but they have 20% tax included in all their pricing and the costs are insane.
- I really love telling people I’m Canadian. Seeing a Canadian flag makes me smile. Pointing out Canada on a map to the kids I work with brings me great pride.
- Consignment shops in Canada > Consignment shops in France… Before, I resisted buying all the brand name goodies at home. But now that I see what they’re worth and what consignment shops in Canada are pricing them at, you can bet I’m going to go buck wild! Shopping spree!
- Inconveniences are commonplace in France (particularly Paris) and you won’t get an apology for it. I’m not asking for an apology for every minor inconvenience, but a little acknowledgment like the Canadians do is a very nice thing.
- Though life is more work-focused in Canada, life is simpler. Ultimately, there are fewer nonsensical stipulations that need to be adhered to and fewer hoops to jump through in comparison to some of the chaos here.
But, don’t let my words mislead you. I love being here. I love living here. I love being able to experience life as a true Parisian. I wish I didn’t have to leave and I wish I could find a work-life balance somewhere in France that would allow me to safely have my animals with me, have a career that doesn’t run me dry but also pays the bills, and still have enough to spare on a bottle of champagne, just for the heck of it (why not?).
I am truly so in love with this city, with all of it’s (many) flaws. But now I know that when I leave, it won’t be like when I came here on vacation and would cry, feeling like I was being torn from the arms of a long-distance lover. I know that when I leave now, it will be with a smile on my face at the memories I’ve made with this city, the influence it has had on the very core of my existence, the lessons of patience and appreciation it has taught me, and the Parisian it has transformed me into.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I don’t own anything or anyone in this experience called life. The only thing that belongs to me is me and what I do with these experiences, how they transform me, shape me, mold me, and make me a better version of myself. Yes, like Hemingway I say that Paris belongs to me, but it’s in the context of it having changed me and my relationship with Paris is personal and mine alone. But I’m okay to let my lover go, because it was my dream to be with her, to live in her apartments, to walk her cobblestones to a place called work, to go to sleep and not worry about time being cut short, eliminating any opportunities to explore her, discover her, just be with her. And I got that. And I am grateful. And how much more could I demand from the universe?
Paris will always feel like home to me, and now that I’ve truly come to understand what that feels like, it will forever be a part of my life.
I still have 65 days to go — the intent of this post is not to sound remorse or lament what will happen, come December. I’m just writing. I am not sad. I am beyond happy. And I’m ready to live the next 65 days of my life as though they were my last. No regrets, no challenges unclimbed, always moving forward with pure joy in my heart.
In other news, I am going to Tokyo, Japan (Oct 21-29) which has been number one on my dream destination list for God-knows how long!
La vita e bella.