So how can France, herself, be the first of the 365-things-I-love-about-France, as she is obviously the focus of this entire blog? Simply put, there would be no blog if not for my great fortune of having landed in France to begin with.
Paris has been our on-and-off home since the summer of 2009. To be honest, even though we made a conscious effort to quit the US for a while in exchange for an experience abroad, France was not our first choice. In fact, none of us knew much about Paris or France. With the collective knowledge of the countless romantic Hollywood moments we’d watched on the big screen, and the storied love-hate relationship between our two countries, we arrived in Paris excited, apprehensive, and pretty darn green.
Since my husband, Superman, and I had been exposed to all the negative stereotypes about the French and France, we weren’t overly keen to make this leap. One might even say, we were terrified of the French, but nonetheless, as good liberals, willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Unfortunately, in the beginning, our reality in Paris wasn’t so far off from the cauchemars we had secretly and frequently imagined, before we left the States. The postman was cruel, the French teachers abusive, the shopkeepers hardened and smug, the dog poop piled high on the trottoirs, and the average Frenchman more happy to play a game of sidewalk chicken, than break a smile or lend a helping hand. No matter what day you checked on us, one family member was undoubtedly lying in a heap on the bed sobbing uncontrollably.
But thanks to the support of the girls’ bilingual school community and a thimble full of kind French friends, things began to shift. Ever so slowly, happiness began to trickle in. France and all things French seemed to get under our skin and creep into our hearts. We began to fall in love with this complicated country.
And now, after two years we feel incredibly grateful for this experience and, at least I, feel more at home in France than I ever did in Colorado. Which is not to say that the rose tint has not begun to fade when I look out at my French world. But even though I may no longer be a Polly Anna in regards to the wonders of France, I have begun to panic at the possibility of saying goodbye to this country yet again. En ce moment, I can’t imagine living anywhere but Paris and I am rattled by the possibility of only having a short 365 days left among the French.
This blog is a way for me to fondly share both the things that make living in France so downright astonishing, and the things that drive us expats mad, yet in their own strange way, make this bewildering country a place I feel enormously fortunate to call home. While our Paris life will, by default, be the focus of my writing, I also plan to share the daily marvels and exasperations of as many corners of France as I can.
Thanks for following along as I countdown the 365-things-I-love-about-France.
Alors, ça commence..allons-y!