Ups and downs

July 28, 2009 at 10:25 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

As often happens, a not-so-great day is followed by  one that is markedly better.  So far today I have had no run-ins with teeny tiny hair product bottles, or dog poop, or bureaucracy (well that’s a lie, but it worked out in my favor and only involved 3 signatures), or egregious typos (qs qn exq,ple; this is zhqt hqppens zhen I try to touch)type on q French keyboqrd in éààç–to translate, I just switched my laptop to French and typed “as an example, this is what happens when I try to touch-type on a French keyboard in 2009”), inopportune store closures (though I haven’t actually tried to buy anything in a store except my morning baguette and some groceries for dinner), or loneliness.  Sometimes just admitting that things aren’t completely perfect and wonderful is the hardest and most important step in trying to make them better, so thank you for hanging in there with me. The truth is that I really love Paris and France, and when I’m in a good mood, quirks–like how, in the entire Metro system, I have only found three automatic ticket machines that take bills:  the rest require either a European credit card with a computer chip, or coins, which is wildly impractical when you are buying a 50-euro monthly pass, but I digress–are charming and add character or just aren’t that big of a deal.  When I’m in a less-good mood, I just want to be able to cross the street without being guided 10 meters out of my way by iron fences that block the intersections for pedestrians.

And I also think that, when your normal support systems are not there to fall back on–like randomly calling a friend to meet up for a drink, or picking up the phone to vent to someone without it being super expensive, or even just being in the same time zone as most of your network–highs are higher, but lows are lower.  It is so exhilarating to get through a whole dinner party in French and actually grasp what occurred and maybe even contribute, or to open that bank account all on my own (except the 3 people who had to write me letters of attestation and help me get the necessary documents, but I negotiated all the ins and outs with the bank directly, and the guy spoke very little English), or to have a great conversation with a near stranger.  But it’s much harder to deal with the disappointments that occur when when you can’t understand a damn thing going on around you, when you realize that the system is designed to employ as many people as possible and that helping you navigate the process of opening a French bank account is not really a goal, or when you just can’t summon the social energy to go out and meet people.  And while in the U.S. I really don’t feel that bad about spending a Monday night doing nothing in particular, I am still trying to get over the feeling that I’m in Paris! I should be out having the time of my life every night! It’s all part of the difficulty of making the awkward transition from vacation fantasyland to real life–because now that it’s sinking in that this Paris thing isn’t just a lark or a one-time chance, all of a sudden the perspective is different.

Anyway–tonight I met up for drinks with Muriel, my flat-mate from last summer, and it was so good to see her.  She is in the process of moving and selling her flat, and it was just wonderful to catch up with her.  And to remind myself that it really is possible to build a world and a life here, but it just takes time.

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