I’ve been thinking this morning about what my life will be like when I go home. I’ve been here since September 20th. That makes 4 months and 3 days. I knew it would go by fast, but I wasn’t prepared for how that would feel. It feels like I’ve been here forever, and it feels like I’ve been here for 5 seconds. Some days I want to go home so bad that I almost pack everything and leave. Other days, the prospect of going back to my normal life scares me half to death.
Some things I will miss? My Monday morning yoga class. It’s in this tiny little apartment in the city center. You type a code into this door on the main street, then it takes you through a long, dark corridor. You eventually come to a courtyard and there is another door which leads to an old wooden staircase. I climb up two spiraling flights and enter into the little apartment filled with light. There are only six people in the class. It is yoga bliss.
I will desperately miss walking everywhere. It was the hardest thing to get used to, and I think will be the hardest thing to give up. In the US, we have to drive everywhere. Whether it’s to the coffee shop or the grocery store or to get a haircut, you have to get in your stupid car and drive there. Unless you live in New York City or somewhere walkable with public transport, you are doomed to live out your days behind the wheel. I used to think this was nice, even a luxury. Now I think it explains a lot about the American psyche. For example, we buy so much more than we need at the supermarket simply because we don’t have to carry it. We can take as much as we want anywhere we want because we don’t have to worry about our arms breaking off.
In France, you most likely do not have a car. Especially if you live here on a temporary basis like I do. This means that everything you take with you, you better be willing to carry the entire day. If you bring your computer, you have to lug it all over town and on the bus home. If you go to the grocery store, you shouldn’t buy milk and juice on the same day unless you want a serious workout. You have to carefully consider everything that you purchase. This has made me (slightly) more reasonable with money, but also with how I spend it on food. I eat everything I buy. I have become much less wasteful with food. Part of this comes from having to really think about what I’m buying and when. The other part is that I’m so pissed I had to schlep that jug of milk up four flights of stairs because my building doesn’t have an elevator. You better believe I’m going to drink every last drop.
When I first got here, I hated walking everywhere. My body was not accustomed to having to walk long (for certain Americans I mean) distances to get where I needed to go. My mind wasn’t used to having to rely on public transport and my own sense of direction instead of Google maps and my very own vehicle. I didn’t like having to give up control of where I could go. I didn’t like having to be reliant on a “system.” I was used to being reliant on myself. I have now realized that having to walk everywhere was just a different way of relying on myself.
I love every second of it now. It makes me feel like I’ve earned the right to go home at the end of the day. Maybe this sounds stupid because there are plenty of Americans who do have to walk everywhere. Maybe I also used to be lazier than I am now. This is my personal experience with it, but I’m telling you now that I’ve learned something new about myself. That’s the thing about being a stranger in a strange land, you have to adapt and do things that you normally wouldn’t. That’s also exactly why I came here.
In the end, I think it’s good for us.