It’s the second Tuesday of 2007, and I’m back in my little apartment in Paris from a two week vacation. Christmas is officially over.
Rather than vacationing in the South with the nanny family, which was alluded to several times, and blatantly lied about several other times, I flew home to Tacoma for a surprise visit. Well, it wasn’t a complete surprise – my family obviously knew that I was coming home – it was my parents who paid for the round-trip ticket (to Paris in August, back to SeaTac in December) after all.
I managed to pack quite a few friends into the short two weeks I got to spend at home, but there were still quite a few people I’d intended to call and just didn’t have a chance to. I only had 15 days – I had to budget my time very carefully, to eat the maximum amount of pho and Mexican food, bake as many chocolate chip cookies as I could fit into the family supply of Tupperware, drive a car for the first time in four months, and hang out with the family as much as possible.
Though I’d expected to feel weird about being back in Tacoma for such a short time, it felt completely natural – especially since the vacation was packed full of the things I always do in Seattle. I went to PNB’s The Nutcracker with my grandparents, cheered at a Stadium swim meet, helped out in the Seabury School library, got dinner on the Ave and hung out with both Tacoma and Seattle friends.
Like I said, it was totally natural to be home. The weird thing is being back in Paris. I think part of the strangeness is the fact that this Christmas was particularly eventful. Wilbur (the family dog) was hit by a car and killed two days before Christmas, which definitely shook things up. Ben is waiting to hear back from a few schools he’s already applied to and is in the midst of the rest of his college applications. My dad is trying to write and publish a book. We threw a party (we’re not generally a party-throwing family). I decided to forsake all of my overly-amorous French boys and try a (really really) long-distance thing for the rest of the year (though I still need to have a talk with one of the boys I’d been kind of casually dating since October – I’m getting really good at giving the “I don’t want to date you” speech in French by now). It was a busy vacation.
Sunday though, I packed up my bags again (this time laden with peanut butter, contact solution and American candy for the nanny kids), and after two planes, a six-hour layover in Amsterdam, two pieces of lost luggage, a train and metro ride, I was back home. This is the really weird part – I feel like I just stopped in to visit Seattle life for a while, but now that I’m back in Paris, I’m back in my real life – everything else that happened in the past few weeks seems like it belongs to someone else’s memory.
The truth is that I don’t live in Tacoma or in Seattle – I live in the 2ème arondissement of Paris, France, and I feel completely at home here. I’m back in my apartment, on my street (although I was disturbed to see that a new restaurant has appeared across the street from me – Paris wasn’t supposed to have changed in only two weeks!), and after sleeping for 14 straight hours in my bed, I went shopping at my local Franprix, to restock my kitchen.
I’m back to the life where I walk through the courtyard of the Louvre everyday to get to school, where I have a year-long membership to the Pompidou Center, where we go out for a drink at 23h on a Tuesday night. I’m back to the life where I buy my bread, produce and groceries in three separate locations, and have to dress up before I leave my apartment to go shopping for them.
I feel like I don’t know where I live anymore – do I live in Tacoma, Paris or Seattle? It feels so weird to “visit” my house in Tacoma – but at the same time it’s so normal that it’s weird to feel as settled as I do, living alone in Europe at the age of 21. I don’t know if that’s something I’ll ever figure out though. I guess the plan is just to enjoy where I am while I’m there and not worry so much about everywhere else. It’s 2007, after all – and I’m in Paris!