365 Days In Paris: You Say Goodbye And I Say Bonjour

I can’t believe I leave for Paris tomorrow. I haven’t slept in two nights. I’m so wired. The past week has been a complete whirlwind. Between packing, last-minute doctor appointments, and taking care of arrival details, I’ve also been organizing tons of goodbyes. I’ve lived in New York City for most of my life (I was born here and grew up in Manhattan), so I didn’t think I’d feel sentimental about leaving this city that feels so normal. And normalness, as you may know, is my pet peeve these days. But all of a sudden, I do feel a pang of sadness, not so much for my surroundings, but for the people in them. My whole family is here, and we’re very close. My biggest fear is that I’ll come back from Paris a year later to find everyone’s changed. Who knows—by the time I return, Big Sister could have a baby, or my parents could suddenly be old. But I guess going away forces you to look at what you do appreciate and love about people. I took the liberty of organizing my own birthday/going away party, knowing that it would be the point where reality would sink in by seeing everyone one last time. The evening ended up being really special (thanks Frisky friends for being there!), despite the fact that the dress I had been desperately hoping to wear didn’t fit in the slightest. It maybe took two people to attempt to zip it until the zipper broke leaving me trapped in the dress until a pair of pliers could free me. Sad, but I found something else to wear.

So now I’m off, and I’m experiencing a mix of emotions. Thank goodness I’m finally feeling revved and excited, but there are still fears. One of the biggest things I worry about is feeling disconnected and lonely. I suppose loneliness is something I’ve always struggled with, even when I have been surrounded by friends. But the truth is, I don’t really know too many people in Paris, which makes moving there all the more scary! I have my cousins who live in the suburbs (they have three adorable kids), and they’re wonderful, and there for me as family. Aside from that, I have a girlfriend from college, and one girl I was extremely good friends with in high school, but we’ve since fallen out of touch.

I’ll have to do a lot of outreach. I’m planning to become a member of the American Library, which hosts talks and book groups, as well as join a writing group, and enroll in one of the government-sponsored French courses. I’ve actually done a lot of pre-networking, though. I’ve emailed just about everyone I know with friends of friends in Paris (feel free to put me in touch with yours, too!). So far, I’ve been corresponding with some awesome-sounding people. As a blogger, I also started exploring the Paris blogging scene online a few months ago, and was super psyched to find that: a.) there is a huge one there, and b.) it’s very welcoming and connected.

In fact, there is one particular boy blogger I’ve been corresponding with regularly (in French!). It’s hard to get an idea of his nuances and personality when he’s not writing in English, but he does look cute, and I sense we’d get along in the very least as friends. Only recent caveat: he has a pet squirrel. Or maybe it’s a chipmunk. He sent me pictures of it, and I can’t really tell. Is it just me, or is that a bit weird? Maybe there’s some cultural difference there I’m not understanding. I’ll definitely meet up with him when I get to Paris, and as it so happens, I just received a sweet email from him 10 minutes ago wishing me a happy birthday. It warmed my heart, considering that only a few hours ago I got a happy birthday email that did the exact opposite. That one was from my most recent ex—one who happens to live in Europe and with whom I’ll always feel an unrequited love. My wise mother and sister accurately predicted that he’d come out of the woodwork right about now (“They always come back.”).

I, however, am going ahead. See you in Paris!