Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Moving, or Lack Thereof

We return to Boston in less than a week, and none of us are ready to leave.  It just seems like we haven't had enough time here, like it was only yesterday that I flew into Paris on my own and sat quietly in the apartment on Denfert-Rochereau with all the lights on, feeling small in a big city without my family around me.  How I have changed!  My French has improved hugely, and now this shining city feels like it's my own - I know the Métro now, and the girl behind the counter at the bakery, and the old man who watches soccer in the corner store.  There are parts of the city where the street names are strange to me, where I don't know the people and feel unsafe, or like a foreigner stopping to look at the maps in the bus stops, but in my Paris a waiter at a café cheers me on as I go running in the mornings and the benches and bridges are familiar friends.  In my Paris there are people who know what I will order before I say anything, and the boy who says "quel sourire!" when I walk by.  I won't ever know the whole city - I am not even familiar with all the quiet streets and personalities of Cambridge, where I grew up - and that's okay.  But I'm not ready to leave.
I am not ready to go running by the Charles yet, to reacquaint myself with supermarkets and the fewer bridges and subway stops.  I'm not ready for the surprise of everyone speaking English (will it be like an onslaught, where you can understand every word, every sentence, of conversations overheard in cafés?) and streets with no fountains built into the sides of stone buildings, where there are no statues on the street corners or submarine roofs soaring above the city.  I might even miss the cigarette smoke.
None of us are ready to leave, and the apartment in the Marais reflects this: there are no boxes of clothes marked for the US or books separated from the bookshelves.  My desk is its usual clutter of paper and Chapstick and contact solution.  My brother's fancy chef's apron hangs in the kitchen, and our toothpaste is in the bathroom.  None of us are ready to leave - emotionally or practically.  And I would say that perhaps we should wait a little longer - just a week or two more perhaps - but I miss my friends, and, as much as it doesn't sound like it, I miss my city.
When you have moved to a new place, or back home, was it hard?

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