365 Days In Paris: Social Studies

If you could have your ideal social life, what would that be? Parties every night of the week? Home-oriented with the option to go out? Hanging out at your best friends’ houses?

Creating the tone of your life outside work hours depends on the kind of person you are, but it’s also largely reliant on the city you live in.

It’s taken me a while to realize that cultivating a “normal social life” in Paris can’t rely on my past experiences. Even though I may have grown tired of my going-out habits in New York, I felt engaged in a certain standard culture. In Paris, however, I’ve come to see that I’ve been fighting an uphill battle to tap into what I’ve come to think of as that “standard social culture,” because, duh, the lives of young people here are vastly different. In a nutshell: Paris is a city for couples. This has its benefits and its flaws. If you’re in a couple, great. If you’re not, sucks for you. Yet, if you’re single and lonely, you’ll also be single and lonely in the most romantic place in the world. As for what this translates to in terms of concrete plans: after work, people like to go home to their lovers to cook dinner and be mellow. That’s understandable, and I’d probably do the same. They’ll go out with their girl/boyfriends and other close pals from time to time on a weekday. Or, people will go out for dinner. On the weekends, yes, people go to bars and parties. It’s just a matter of finding the right ones.

There’s been an adjustment both in what I have available to me and what I find fulfilling here. While I know about 20-25 people in Paris, I have three really good friends who have become my main network. These people, however, are all in relationships, so they’re not the kind of girlfriends you can rely on for cocktails any night of the week. In NYC, I may have had these close friends, too, but a larger amount of my time was devoted to the opportunities with the second circle and acquaintances. So, I guess you could say that I generally go out less. But that when I do, I find it to be a much better time.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately—the day-to-day stuff in Paris—and been asking myself what I really love about my life, and what I think I could never get used to. It’s a general anxiety that’s come about lately because my year is almost half through. I know I have some time until my visa is up at the end of the summer, but the fact is that I’ll have to know a couple months before then what it is I’m doing. Which means I’ll need to start thinking eventually. Do I love it enough here in Paris to stay on? What’s in store for me if I were to return to the States? Would I even want to live in New York? What would happen if I met someone here?

In truth, quite a bit of this has been aggravated by my heartbreak with Alex, because, for a moment there, things seemed so clear. Of course I would stay in Europe if it meant being close to him. Who knows if it would have worked, but it was a plan that excited me.

As it so happens, I’m off to the States this week, just for a quick visit. I’d really been resisting my parents’ requests to come home for a bit, but it felt like the right thing to do at the moment. Get some support for my still healing heart, and see what feels more like coming home—getting off the plane in Paris or New York City.