Nothing spells quarter-life crisis more than turning your world upside down to move to France without much thought as to how it will affect your career, happiness, relationships, or bank account.
I am about to turn 24 in a few days. And a few days after that, I’m packing up my life into two suitcases (somehow) and moving to Paris for a year. While I don’t quite fit into the mid-twenties bracket when the quarter-life crisis traditionally sets in, I knew about six months ago that it was beginning to happen.
Two years out of college, the regularity of my life had become puzzling. On the one hand, I realized how I was settling in with the idea of being a “grown-up.” On the other, the lack of transitions was starting to get to me. It’s ironic how you spend the first 22 years (if not more) of your life in transition with markers of beginnings and ends. Change, to me, was a comforting constant.
During this two-year period, I began dreaming of Paris. I’d spent my junior year abroad there. It wasn’t the most fantastic year of my life, and I even left the city thinking I’d never be able to live there again, but, yeah, I changed. A lot.In bed, at work, on the train, at the bar, or whenever, I felt stagnant. I started escaping to Paris in my mind. Then one day, I was snapped out of my reverie. I was lamenting to a friend in passing (OK, or maybe she’d heard this story a million times before) how, “Le sighhhhh, I just want to be in Parissss. …”
“You know what, Leo?” she said in a sharp tone, “Just go. If you don’t want to be here, don’t be here.”
She sounded annoyed and her words stung me. But only momentarily. Why don’t you go? I asked myself. The time would be now, after all, before I settled in (ugh) to whatever my next “serious” job would be and before I got involved in a “serious” relationship (or worse, had kids! Crazy!).
I started planning. And man, did it take a lot of planning. I moved back in with my parents to save money (talk about regressing), had to gather massive amounts of paperwork for my visa application, and figure out a place to live. The time it took to get everything together became almost embarrassing, as I had joyously announced to everyone one day, “I’m moving to Paris!” When I was still around a few months later, people started asking, “Are you going or what?”
Please let this not be a repeat of “Revolutionary Road,” I prayed, hoping I wouldn’t back out and look like a failure.
But somehow, I managed to pull it all together. I even got extremely lucky and landed an incredible apartment—no joke, it is in the exact center of Paris, with a view of the Seine and the Notre Dame a mere two blocks away.
As much as I may feel (and sound) lost, I do know I’m more together than I’d like to believe. And, while I basically have been in a constant panic for the past month, I’m more than excited.
My goals for the year: become fluent in French, push myself to make friends, eat good food (but hopefully not gain 25 pounds like I did the last time I lived in Paris), and write a lot. I’d also like to learn how to really be comfortable alone. Then again, I really want un homme as well. I can have both, right?
So this is the beginning of my blog, “365 Days in Paris.” I hope you read along as I try to make it in Franceland, and (I won’t lie), hopefully, fall in love. If not with a guy, then with myself.