Hi friends !
Hope you are all having a wonderful Sunday, reading the paper, drinking tea, hiking in the crisp fall weather...
When I started Minstinguett, one of my ideas for a feature was something along the lines of 'Sunday Stories'. I wanted a creative blog that was a mixture of things- inspirations from all around, daily adventures, as well as an outlet for some of my travel stories. Having a blog for my stories allows me to write about them (pushes me to write about them) but in a more casual way. I'll try to vary the stories from week to week and hopefully I won't get behind on my posting schedule. As always, I love comments ! Are you writing down your own adventures ?
I'll start with a story- a moment- that I experienced a little under 2 1/2 years ago, that I still think about often. It was at the end of my year studying abroad in Nantes and Paris during my junior year of college.
My feet knew the path well, luckily. I didn't quite know how to feel- it was as if I was seeing everything for the first time instead of the last. I turned the corner and headed up Avenue Reille, heading to my favorite spot in the 13th arrondissment in Paris, my home that spring. I passed the tiny presserie which hardly seemed big enough to offer dry cleaning. The 'France-Louisiane Franco-Américanie' drifted by on my left, with the same man I always saw, sitting behind his dark 'bureau' surrounded by yellowing photos and nostalgic photos of New Orleans decades ago. It was surely one of the most niche-specific offices on the block, with a small exhibit and exchanges with New Orleans and Parisian residents.
The trees lining my path were barren and cold when I arrived in Febraury. On my weekly runs I watched them turn furry with excitement for spring and the warm months ahead. I could almost hear them sigh with relief as their bright leaves slowly unfolded in the early Paris sunshine. Now, on the last day of May, the thick branches belonged to full trees, shading the sidewalk and the neighborhood residents. My running shoes were already packed and zipped in my suitcase; today I was walking, with a hope that it would slow things down if only a little bit.
I reached the end of my street and tried to memorize the view of the entrance to Parc Montsouris. My park. With it's majestic gates guarding the entrance to the green lawn, the calm lake and the playground for adorably dressed Parisian toddlers. A mother pushed her daughter in her pousette through the gate as her son followed eagerly behind, if only slightly distracted by the avion he was zipping through the air, his lips buzzing like an enginge. "Allez, tu viens là ?" the mother demanded, and the boy zipped ahead of his mother and sister into the park.
Après tout, it seemend to make sense in a perfect way, that my last day would be filled with nothing particularly extraordinaire. Just my normal Parisian days, falling into place in my surroundings.
Even though my feet kept a calm and steady pace, my thoughts were anything but relaxed. There was a certain relief and excitement to be heading home. But at the moment it was overshadowed by the absolute fear that nothing would ever be the same. That this lovely, comfortable, exciting but ordinary adventure I'd led in France for the past 9 months would disappear completely once I left. An illusion. Something I would have to convince myself had truly happened. Once I left France, my time there would become somewhat of a snowglobe- something I could observe, but never again be inside of. No longer a participant, but a permanent bystander. Just the thought of not being able to slip back into this world I had been living in made me sick with panic. If this was going to be the reality, honestly I'd rather not leave.
I sat down on one of the green flaky benched where I'd spent so many afternoons. Stretching after a couple loops through the park. My journal on my lap with my pen scrawling excitedly across the page. Watching the old couple across from me walk casually around the lake, elbows linked.
The hardest part about leaving a place is the fear and recognition that things will be different when you return. The fear of being left out could almost be strong enough to keep me standing still. And even if I was lucky enough to come back to France, back to Paris, how could it ever be better than it had during this past year ? A year of traveling, discovering, living passionately.
I wasn't doing well with these fears- it just felt like the couldn't be overcome, even as I continued to hope desperately for a solution.
My back slid against the bench and I looked up towards the blue late morning sky peppered with clouds. I'd done the same thing countless times, admiring the contours of an illuminated and patchy sky. The shape of the cloud I saw in front of me shook me from my daydream with a jolt. It was so familiar. But then, it couldn't possible be. People talk about coincidences, about symbols; messages meant to be- but did that ever really happen ?
As I sat there in awe, the anxiety I'd been trying to sort through started rolling down my cheeks.
There was, however, a smile through those tears, as I stared upwards at the puffy form of France twinkling down on me. That silly cloud gave me more comfort than any lecture or self pep-talk ever could. Yes, things would change, but that was the utter excitement of it all. I would never forget France, even if I tried. And that afternoon I was assured, france would never forget me either.