How to know when to leave Paris
In October it will be two years since I arrived in Paris, and for the first time in ages, I’m starting to think about my future. I can’t imagine staying in Paris for the rest of my life. But then again, I can’t imagine leaving either.
On a daily basis I feel annoyed at so many things in this city. When people tell me how lucky I am to live here, it takes all my effort not to snort and launch into a passionate tirade of how irritating Paris can be.
On the other hand, when I think about leaving I just feel really sad. I start to look fondly at the pile of half-eaten food and dirty nappies collecting in the corner of the RER. I smile sweetly at the leery, smelly person trying to talk to me as I walk down the street. I skip merrily over the assault course of dog poo… actually no, I’ll never have any fond thoughts about the pavements here.
I’ll make a confession: I’ve started thinking about the future for a reason that is often associated with Paris, love. Unfortunately, (or fortunately, as it is yet to be decided) I’ve tentatively started seeing someone who lives in England, and it has sent my brain into a whirl.
I came to Paris to escape a broken heart and, despite being permanently surrounded by romantic holidaying couples, it really worked. Fulfilling a dream and throwing myself into a new city, a new language, new friends, and new everything, was the best therapy for the feeling that my life was all going wrong.
As much as I love my home country, when I’m in England, I feel pain at the past and I worry about the future. Whereas, when I’m in Paris, I just live in the present and don’t let my thoughts go too far ahead. It’s so unbelievably liberating, but can I live like that forever?
Several expats I know say that after living abroad for six or seven years, they noticed a feeling of disconnect with their home country. They were no longer familiar with cultural conversations and had started to feel that their personalities were much more ‘international.’ I have a few years to go before I reach that point, but honestly, the thought of that frightens me a little.
I love my life in Paris, yet I don’t feel a huge connection to France. In fact, being away has made me realise how glad I am to have the UK as a home. For all of its downsides, there are many things I love about it, and it is a really big part of who I am.
However, Paris was my escape route. It allowed me to neatly side-step the depressive pull of a breakup and focus on a new adventure, instead. If I give that up, what will be my escape route next time?
Well, I suppose that only time will tell. Seeing as I am in France and in the city of love and romance, I will close with the words of French philosopher, Anatole France, who said, “En art comme en amour, l’instinct suffit.” (In art as in love, instinct is enough).