Monday, August 16, 2010

While I Had You Otherwise Occupied

Okay, so some of you liked the pieces I ran from Adam Gopnik's anthology, Americans in Paris, and for the rest of you, it was apparently a crashing bore. But it's done, over. If you liked it, you can go back and re-read those passages at your leisure. If not, breathe a sigh of relief and rest assured that I will be returning to a more typical mix of odd pictures and my musings about life in Paris.

In case you were wondering, one of the reasons for the series (in addition to my genuine enthusiasm for the anthology) is that it allowed me to step away from blogging for a full month while our family took a historic trip back home. Historic because we've never taken a trip that long before (10 days is usually our limit) and because it was only our second trip back home since arriving in France, the first being in December 2008. We had a lot of balls in the air, hopping from DC out to Missouri and then on to Canada and Vermont. Daily blogging was not something I wanted to add to the chaos.

I got on that plane in mid July with mixed feelings. Of course, I was looking forward to seeing family, friends, and familiar places but I was also unsure how I would react to being back. Happily, it all worked out, logistically and emotionally, and if anything, the trip confirmed two things. First, although Washington, DC is the city that Americans love to hate or at least to badmouth as frequently as possible, it is unequivocally my hometown. I wasn't born or raised there but it's the place I've lived longest, the spot where I feel absolutely comfortable and connected. Despite near 100 degrees temperatures and crazy high humidity, for me, the city resonated with beauty and friendliness. Crepe myrtles and day lilies were in bloom everywhere, geraniums cascading from front porch pots, and the greenery was lush. When I stopped in our neighborhood supermarket for a few items, Ted, one of the checkers who's been working there for forever, wanted to know where I'd been. And of course it was great seeing our friends and the kids' friends, sharing meals, catching up on news, and seeing how much all the kids have grown. I liked having the Washington Post with my morning coffee, the convenience of great and affordable shopping, and even driving around with the radio cranked up.

And second, as much as I feel good knowing that we will land in DC once again, the trip confirmed that I'm really not done with Paris yet. It was easy to revel in blueberries and bagels, homegrown tomatoes and sweet corn, when I knew that warm baguettes and wonderful cheeses would be waiting for us on our return. I could enjoy dipping my kayak paddle into the waters of Lake Champlain and engaging in some retail therapy at Target given that there's still time for strolling in Parisian gardens and window shopping in the Marais. For the moment, I felt I had the best of both worlds.

So now we're back in Paris where the temperatures are blissfully cool and the streets quiet. Trust me; I'm counting my blessings.


Duchesse said...

It's good to have you back, Anne! As much as I enjoyed the anthology, I much prefer your personal touch:)

I totally understand what you mean about enjoying the familiarity of life in North America but not being done with Paris. Maybe you guys will want to buy a pied-à-terre in Paris so you can return for extended holidays when you miss the city too much? I know I keep my eyes peeled for the perfect little place on my own in the City of Lights:)

Sweet Freak said...

Sheesh - as I'm gearing up for a return visit, that is *exactly* how I'm feeling. Based on my visit last year, on which I felt alienated, sad, conflicted and ill at ease, I'm a bit anxious for this year's visit. But at the same time, I'm dying for my comfort foods, my daily niceties and pleasantries, crap tv and oui! a Target run, and, of course, friends and family. It will be nice to be comfortable and totally confident about everything I'm doing and saying and hearing for 10 days!

And then come back to the baguettes and cheese. :)

Paris Paul said...

Wow! This is the first "real" blog by you I've read. I really enjoyed the Americans in Paris posts, but I always love to hear people's stories.

I lived in/near DC twice. I, too, moved around a lot as a child but spent part of my youth on Andrews AFB and then, later, lived in Oxen Hill/Prince George's County, Maryland. DC is so beautiful in the summer and I often recommend to my French friends that they try to visit the city. It definitely has a more European feel to it than many other urban sites in the US.

I'm glad you realized your time in Paris isn't over! I still remember my early trips back to the States and there were so many times I felt homesick for the City of Light.

Welcome Back!

debbie in toronto said...

welcome back Anne...sounds like you had a great visit and time with family...

I hope the cool weather stays in Paris..I'll be there in four weeks and I'm tired of the humidity here...

Shelli and Gene said...

Interesting to hear your mix of happy to be home but happy in Paris. It's something we're still working out. We return to Paris this week and I'm ready after 10 weeks back "home". Home seems to be a moving target at the moment.

Keep that nice weather going for us, please.

Cherie said...

I've just recently discovered your blog. I know exactly what you mean about a place being home even if you weren't born or raised there. I tell my husband, who doesn't really understand my attachment to a city that I adopted as an adult, that it's the place where I became myself. How fortunate you are to have two places that pull at your heartstrings.

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