Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Treaty of Maastricht, which created the European Monetary Union, aka the euro zone. Oh– And it marks the one month anniversary of my arrival in Paris. No big deal.
Sitting here in my cozy studio, eating a crème brulé I bought around the corner and watching the sky turn from pale blue to grey, I can’t help but wonder how I could possibly feel as content as I do now. I’m wearing a gentle smile on my face. I’m carrying not a single worry or care. My mind is clear and my heart is steady. I am happy, and yet I moved to Paris only one month ago. By this point I expected myself to be huddled in the fetal position, covered in snot and tears, longing to fly back to Arizona. Instead, I’m glowing.
My sense of self-contentment may be due to the fact that I just gave my first oral presentation (en français) without passing out. And it may be due to the fact that my professor had not a single negative remark regarding my work. It may be due to the crème brulée filling my tummy, or the fact that I wore one of my favorite outfits today and felt supa sexy. But– I get the feeling my happiness is truly rooted in my ability to affirm that I made the right decision. With every passing day I love Paris more and miss Tucson less. I’m no longer afraid to speak French or make mistakes. Now, I seek out opportunities to speak this language and I learn from every fumble. I no longer resent Paris for what it doesn’t have– cactus gardens, wild deer, towering peaks. Instead, I love it for the things is has that other places don’t– French gardens, wild nights, towering monuments. One month later, I’ve embraced my present, and I know it leads to a meaningful future.
Still, my month here hasn’t been without loneliness or desperation. Everyday is a challenge, whether I’m giving a presentation in class or trying to set up a bank account. But every challenge teaches me a lesson, and I feel I’ve learned more in one month here than I did in two years of college. However, those two years were not wasted. As I prepared to move to Paris, I liked to think that leaving Tucson meant I could recreate my identity. I fantasized about what I’d tell people when they asked about my hobbies or my past. They wouldn’t know me, so I could tell them anything thing I wanted to. I didn’t have to be the Savannah I am back home. I could be the Savannah of my dreams. But here I am in Paris, and still I am– fundamentally– the same person I was one month ago. I still call myself a singer. I still smile too much. I still want to be a writer. The only difference is I’ve swapped my amethyst eyeliner for coral lipstick. Aside from that, I remain firmly grounded in the identity I constructed over the past two years. Coming here has shown me that I’m no longer a rough draft of the person I’m meant to be. I’ve built a solid foundation, and now I’m installing the staircase to the second floor.
Perhaps this is simply the culmination of the so-called “honey moon period” experienced by students studying abroad. The snot and tears may cover me yet. If and when they do, I’ll be sure to look back to this moment of clarity, faith and self-confidence. No matter how difficult this journey may be, I know now and always that I’m on the right path, baguette in hand, coral smile upon my face, heels clicking against the cobblestones.
C’est magique, la vie, et c’est la mienne.
Smiles and all the best,