The largest poster in my apartment is a giant framed picture of the Eiffel Tower. Above my bed hangs another poster with all the greatest landmarks of Paris. My makeup bag is a touristy designer bag, Paris label. A mini metal Eiffel Tower sculpture sits on my dresser, while Eiffel Tower earrings adorn my ears. My facebook is set in French, an Eiffel Tower is set as the background on my phone, I have close to 6 hours worth of French music on my iTunes, and my favorite scarf that I wear each winter is from Paris.
People sometimes laugh at my predictability in this way…they know that anything French gets me really excited really quickly. Some people think it’s nerdy, some think it’s dumb, some think it’s some sort of bragging, like “I’ve been somewhere you haven’t.” The truth is, it’s all about comfort, wonder, peace, and self-actualization. Those are the things I felt when I visited France. I had never felt comfortable in a place the way I did in France, and I’ve never quite felt that same comfort since. Do I love my friends and family? Of course. Do I love Gustavus? Obviously. But there was a part of me that stayed in Paris in 2008 and hasn’t come back since, and has been calling to me every day since my return. It sounds silly, I know, but I just felt so at home there, in a way I’d never quite felt before. There was mystery, there was love, there was adventure. There was this feeling of being at the center of absolutely everything and at the same time being on the edge of something. There were so many different types of everything — people, restaurants, shoppes, cars, foods, drinks.
And I know that now the first thought people have upon hearing this is some sort of eye-roll and a belief that I have a glamorized view of the city. I don’t. It’s dirty, like any big city. There are homeless people asking for change, salespeople targeting naive tourists. There are unemployed citizens, pick-pockets looking for people with their guard down, people who think they’re above everyone else. But do those things ever really fully disenchant us? New York City is the city that never sleeps, and all of these negative aspects of Paris can be said for NYC as well, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most-visited cities in the United States, a place of wonder and adventure. Paris and NYC are very alike in that way — it’s a feeling that you can lose yourself in the crowd and yet feel at home, all at the same time.
I met people that changed my life in Paris. I saw things, visited places, did things I will never forget. And I still feel that there is so much more to see. I will go back to France, at the soonest possible opportunity. I’m looking at grad school possibilities, teaching/job opportunities, anything to allow me to go back for an extended period of time. I had a dream not too long ago where I graduated from Gustavus and just packed up and flew off to France the very next day. While that is unrealistic for several reasons, there is a definite degree of truth in possibility, because given the opportunity, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it.
So people may think it’s silly or obsessive or weird or whatever they want to call it. But half of my heart is still in France, and I can’t wait til the day when I am reunited with that part of myself. Because in the end, aren’t we all just looking for a place where we can truly feel at home?
It is currently 6:44am. This is my first truly legit all-nighter of college. I’ve done half-assed all-nighters before, where I sneak a nap at some point, or sleep for 2 hours and call it an all-nighter because that’s what it felt like. But it was the night before the music history test, and it had to be done. And it’s 6:44am and I’m still feeling awake. We studied from 3pm-5pm, but then had things to go to. At 8pm, we got together again, and studied in the library. The library (Music Library) closes at 11, so we moved to the music lounge. The building closes at midnight, so we moved to my apartment. At 3:30, we decided it was time for a Perkins run. After Perkins we came back to my apartment, and now we’re just doing other things. And I’m tired, yeah, but it doesn’t even feel that way anymore. Now I’m just up for the day. And the sun is coming up soon and I’m looking forward to the sunshine. It’s funny how much you can get done while everyone else in the world is sleeping. Funny how empty the roads are at 4:30am. Funny how from 3pm-4pm seems like such a short amount of time, but 3am-4am seems to stretch forever, giving you infinite time to relax and get things done. I’m not saying I’ll make this habit…but I won’t say I regret it either. Sometimes you have to pull an all-nighter…maybe to feel more confident about a test, or maybe just to get a new perspective. As for right now…it’s 6:48am now. The sun is starting to poke its head out. It’s very quiet except for a few birds. And me? I’m going to go for a little morning jog.