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Posts tagged ‘Eiffel Tower’

Epilogue: 14 days gone…and it is Groundhog Day again

Golden_Colorado_Howdy.jppI have been staring at my computer all afternoon knowing that I have to write, but not knowing what to say. We have now been back in Colorado for 14 days. It could be 14 years. It is amazing how quickly one can fall back into old habits and routines and how easily a former life seems to slip away. Some days I feel like my life in France never was.

Coming back to Colorado has been like being Bill Murray’s weatherman in the great existential film Groundhog Day. While I have changed immensely, I have been dropped into a life that hasn’t changed at all and I feel like I am living in a sort of Nietzschesque state of eternal recurrence. It is as if I am residing in an alternate universe on a parallel train track never scheduled to intersect the French life I left behind. What bothers me the most is that while I can intellectualize my former life in France, I am having a really hard time feeling what that life felt like, and I am slightly terrified that I will lose that happy girl who lived in that stunning city and felt like she could do anything.

Don’t get me wrong; being back in America is easy on so many levels. I am having a ball chatting up everyone on every subject. It is great to be back in a friendly land where the customer is always right, service is given with a smile and wink and everything is AWESOME. People are so nice here, and you can quickly become BFFs with your waitress over a 90-minute meal, or be ready to exchange Christmas cards with your Verizon/iPhone sales rep after a couple of days battling the “home office” and their quirky rules.

I no longer have to look up vocabulary and practice phrases before I go to the doctor or vet or hardware store. If the shopkeepers dare to give me lip, or sneer or roll their eyes (not likely) when I order or have a question, I can easily give it right back to them using adult words, not toddleresque French or tears. If I order a vegetarian meal, no one looks at me like I am an alien with two heads. Everyone here knows what quinoa and chia seeds are and how to pronounce them correctly, and I have found mean-lean-green juice on offer on more than one menu.

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The postwoman is super pleasant and super efficient. There are even these nutty grocery workers called baggers, who are actually trained to carefully bag your precious food items instead of throwing them down the conveyor belt as if they were bowling for bucks. Xcel, the Colorado version of EDF, will cheerfully let you and your family light up and heat your house after a simple 2-minute phone call without even considering asking you for proof that you have a bank account or a signed lease. The water meter man is free to stop by whenever he likes and doesn’t need you to stay by the door all morning long, meter reading in hand.

Yep. Life is easy peasy, nice and breezy in the U.S. of A.

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So why do I miss France so much?

Would it be masochistic to say I miss the challenge? That I miss not knowing what to expect? That I miss being kept on my toes and discovering new people, places and things every day? There is something to be said for being the odd-(wo)man-out, and for the strong friendships forged as you struggle together against the tide.

I do miss the myriad of cultural offerings, the artisanal bakeries, the Seine, my vélib and feet as my sole source of transportation and our cozy apartment life where it was harder to hide behind closed doors. I miss the architecture and human-made splendor, the tiny cars, my Pilates studio and the French dedication to esthetics, beauty and perfection. I miss fantastic window displays and spending the afternoons licking them. I miss being around people from all over the globe with different ideas and realities. I do NOT miss being from the “greatest country in the world”.

I do miss making mistakes and being forced to learn new things and being forced to live. I miss the tiny triumphs of simply making it through the day or even just making it through an hour. Am I crazy to miss the bustling city vibe of that big, but small foreign town that I called home for three years? Maybe I am crazy, but still, I miss the smells, the sounds, the days, the nights, the tastes and textures, the language, the laughs, and those yummy French leeks. Of course I miss my sparkling tower. Mostly I miss my friends.

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I have gone from a humming city of 2.34 million, to a teeny town of 19,186 folks, living their straightforward lives and cowboy dreams.

I suspect that this transition will continue to be tough, but it is a First World problem, and I am determined to spin it in a positive direction. We all have our Punxsutawney Phils and never-ending Groundhog Days, and I have promised myself to try to see my old life with fresh eyes and not fall into a rut or take the easy path.
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Please check in as I figure out small town life and empty nesting, try to come to grips with American values and politics and hopefully find a little bit of la belle France in Colorado.

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No. 363: Goodnight Tower

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No. 361: Roo de Loo

 

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Rue de l’Université has been my home for two years now, and I am going to miss it something fierce.

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I will miss the tropical jungle, trendy café and the canned bird sounds that make up the gardens of the Musée Branly across the street. I’ll miss the twinkling reflection of the Eiffel Tower in the museum windows late at night. I will miss the cozy salon de thé down the way, the short cut to the Seine, and the easy access to les berges. I will miss my Vélib stands and le marché d’à côté with their friendly vendeurs who now smile and wave. I’ll miss the gay gardien a few doors down who looks like Mr. Clean and still eyes Taz suspiciously. And I will miss the lost tourists who shyly ask if I know if they are headed in the right direction, realize they are, and then light up with delight when they see the tip of the tower.

I feel like I know every single cobble stone on the final stretch of this street. All the flowers, doors, balconies and pee stained buildings are familiar and comfortable and feel like home.

It didn’t hit me until just a few moments ago that I am really leaving this place that I love so much. My kitchen table with my sparkling view, my winding staircase, and creaky front door, I will miss them all.

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Sigh. I am sad. So I am going to sit with that sadness for a while and find a silver lining in the morning.

 

No.354: La nuit à Paris

I love Paris when the sun comes up. I love Paris in the morning as the clouds burn off. I love Paris on a drizzly afternoon. And I even love Paris in the bitter cold dusk. But there is something so dreamy and thrilling about la nuit à Paris.

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Vocabulaire:

la nuit à Paris: Paris at night

No. 350: Paris Kitsch

I am a sucker for Paris Kitsch for no other reason than it brings color to this capital clothed in black. Sometimes you just need a little sparkle and boldness, and, maybe even some excessive garishness in this subdued city.  paris_kitch.jpg


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No. 298: Eiffel’s Café Chair Tower

eiffel=tower-red-chairs.jpgIf you have been following my final 365-days in France, you know that I am mad for the Eiffel Tower and anything Eiffel inspired. For the past few weeks, we have been seeing double on the Champ de Mars, so I have been doubly happy…well it also helps that we have come to the end of five-weeks of back-to-back visitors, but that’s another story…

Even if I wasn’t overjoyed by the chance to reclaim our apartment, I would still be tickled pink (or crimson) by the two Eiffel Towers gracing the park en ce moment. A French company has temporarily set up a 40-foot red Eiffel Tower made from 324 café chairs to celebrate the upcoming 125th anniversary of Gustave’s most famous landmark.

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The fire engine-red sculpture will only be on the Champ de Mars until tomorrow afternoon, although rumor has it, it is being secretly transferred to an undisclosed location somewhere else in the City of Light. Stay tuned.

No. 286: Summertime and the Living is Easy (and Long)

The sun rose in Paris yesterday at 05h47 and set at 21h58 last night. I love June 21 ~ the longest day of the year. It is great to be in France in the summertime