In January I was at a party at Louise and Julia’s (former BTL teachers) – Louise had just finished a six-month diploma, during which she had been living like a hermit under all her books, and was celebrating the end of her imprisonment.
As we were playing drunken Jenga, I realised how happy I was, and it surprised me.
Now that my time in Paris has drawn to a close, I’ve been very reflective. I keep trying to pinpoint when the scales tilted but, try as I might, I can’t find the moment when my giddy excitement and calm contentment started to outweigh my loneliness and frustration. I also can’t figure out whether the change was circumstance, or me.
In August I was desperately trying to find a UK visa for which I was eligible, and even went to London and back one day for a job interview.
Now I keep thinking about all the good times I’ve had, and wondering when I can come back.
Although I haven’t had a romance here, I’ve had romantic moments – sitting on the Seine on a balmy July night and watching the sun set with a guy I liked, eating a home-cooked three-course meal by candlelight with another . . . even though neither one led to anything more, they were wonderful moments.
And maybe I haven’t made any close friendships, but I still grin at memories with the friends I have made: racing down the conveyor belts at Châtelet with Simon, a French friend; talking to Mr Frog; going out with Manuela (former flatmate for 17 days); dinners with other teachers in Belleville; and, of course, party after party at Louise and Julia’s. Even my classes put me in a good mood.
True, the recent issue with Bénédicte and my deposit was frustrating, but it doesn’t actually change the fact that she did give me somewhere to stay. Because of her I was dry and safe and warm, and all of the things that I was thankful for before our conversation are still there.
And although it’s often frustrating trying to deal with the French way of (not) doing things, the French way of doing things created this marvellous city which continues to sweep me off my feet.
I’m truly grateful for my time there. Admittedly, it wasn’t the fairy tale I’d imagined, but I like that – it means that the dream of Paris is still ahead of me.
And that dream gives me a reason to come back.