As I write this from behind the wide, towering windows of the local library, gazing out across the Cottonwood trees and the weary, shingled rooftops, it is July 16, nearly five o’clock. In exactly one month from this moment I will set foot in Paris, where I’ll spend the next 11 months living and learning. One month and I’ll say goodbye to this sleepy town, to my family, my friends, the desert. One month, and everything changes. No matter how many times I write those words, they never manifest within my consciousness. The reality of my future is far from real, even further from tangible. But that won’t stop this month from turning into weeks, the weeks to days, the days to hours until, finally, I’m at the airport. If this were any other adventure, I’d grin till my cheeks hurt as the plane lifted from the runway and shot into the sky. But this time, I think it’ll be my stomach hurting, clenching, burning as I fly away. I’m scared shitless, really. And I’m having a hard time laughing about it.
Let me fill you in: I’ll be spending this next academic year studying in Paris at Sciences Po, an institute of political science, where all of my classes will be taught in French. Now that’s immersion. I’ll be living alone for the first time in my life, in a studio on the seventh floor of an elevator-less apartment building in the sixth district. It’s a good neighborhood. A ten minute walk to my university. I have a little balcony overlooking the city. I’m sure it will be an enchanting view, a nice place to sip my coffee in the morning, read, maybe even write. My shower is inside the studio, but the toilet is out in the hall, shared between myself and another tenant. My sister thinks my neighbor will be a foxy young Frenchman, and we will fall in love. If so, I hope there’s a romantic place to get espresso around the corner. I’ve always wanted to fall in love in a coffee shop.
Doesn’t all of this sound so picturesque? Think of all the wonderful things I’m going to see and do! The people I’ll meet, the knowledge I’ll gain. The food! What an experience. Even more exciting is the fact that once I’m in Paris, I’ll be a stranger to everyone I meet. I’ll have no reputation, no predetermined identity. I’ll have the opportunity to be exactly who I’ve always wanted to be, and no one will know the difference.
I’m still scared shitless. As in I wake up every morning with a python coiled around my chest…figuratively. I go through the day with my heart in my mouth, blocking my windpipe. I’m gasping for air, for assurance, for anything that will take this fear away. But it never leaves. I just keep praying I’ll wake up one day to find that the python has slithered away and been replaced by something fluffy and warm, a Koala bear perhaps.
Anyway. My year in Paris means a year of blogging about my year in Paris! Lucky you! I’m hoping to create a few more regular features that will be designed to capture my Parisian experience, and I’d like to get your input. What would you like to read about regarding my year in France? Food? Fashion? Tourism? Tell me in the comments below so I can get a few ideas.
In the meantime, I’m going off the grid for about 10 days. I’m taking a family trip up to Northern Idaho to see my relatives and I’ve decided to leave the laptop behind. I will, however, take plenty of photos and (hopefully) do some blog-worthy writing. I think being disconnected will rejuvenate my spirit and help center my thoughts and intentions. It will certainly stave off my inevitable transformation from human to robot a little while longer.
Till my return, I wish you a week and a half of happiness and creativity– untethered.
Smiles and all the best,
PS– Don’t forget to let me know what you’d like to read about concerning my year in Paris! I can’t wait to hear your ideas!