So it seems that since returning all I’ve been doing is running in circles, head cut off, and just screaming for some time to breath and possible try to re attach my head – I hear they’re necessary, after all. And while abroad was breathless and I was continuously on the move, it was simple. And so I think I get it now: I’m not screaming for time, I’m shouting for simplicity. In fact, I’m doing so at the top of my lungs. Here, things are cluttered – socially, there are ties we have to uphold, appearances that “need” to be made; emotionally, there are those people who you don’t realize make you emotional until you see them after 5+ months and all you can say is “dammit, really?”; physically there is a haggardness thanks to the countless appearances and emotions and school and pressures that make you look as though you’ve fought a war and trudged to class all in the same day. And with rush finally ending this weekend – some could say this is a social war in itself – I’m hoping to find the time to take a breath and rescrew my head to my flailing body. Until then, the chicken metaphor still stands. You’d think after years of overinvolvement my motivated, ambitious, “must do everything” self would’ve learned…alas, the cons of being so Type A.
Ainsi, le petit prince apprivoisa le renard. Et quand l’heure du départ fut proche:
-Ah! dit le renard…Je pleurerai.
—C’est ta faute, dit le petit prince, je ne te souhaitais point du mal, mais tu as voulu que je t’apprivoise…
-Bien sûr, dit le renard.
—Mais tu vas pleurer! dit le petit prince.
-Bien sûr, dit le renard.
—Alors tu n’y gagnes rien!
-J’y gagne, dit le renard, à cause de la couleur du blé.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le Petit Prince
I, for one, can say that I wasn’t ready. After the long drawn out goodbye to France, I’ve been home all of 3(give-or-take-a-few)hours and already find myself itching to do something. Anything. How was boredom so evitable in France but so quick to find me on my floral duvet in my room in NY? I never thought I’d say this but Lilli’s crazy cultural sheets and sayings may have some truth to them: there’s a huge come down from study abroad. I guess all I keep asking myself is, “what now?”
I guess first and foremost there’s the ever-so-pressing issue of NYE: the frazzled rush to find plans, the dodging of jet lag, the futile attempts not to compare anything you’re doing here with what you could be doing across the pond in say, Aix-en-Provence, France. Then there’s the issue of having 5 days at home and 6 valises of laundry to do before repacking and heading down south (“to the land of the pines/I’m—” Sorry, small tangent). Next, the strangeness of adapting to (again) only having one cell phone. I found it very strange to not turn on my very crappy, yet reliable, portable français upon deboarding the plane today at JFK. It’s going to be strange not to pay as I go and I’m sure I will grow wistful as the soundwaves reaching my ears start to lack that obnoxious ding-ing noise that it makes when it wants to alert you to an SMS or phone call. And finally there’s the most important of all issues: what is the fate of this (a)blog? After all, I’d be lying if I said that keeping it hasn’t been entertaining, but I’d also be lying if I continued an abroad-blog from, well, not abroad. I’ve loved the comments that I’ve received – whether it be from parents, family friends, friends, or just bored readers with nothing better to do who ended up getting a good laugh. I guess we’ll see…considering the number of people who incredulously listen to the events of my day to day and marvel at the fact that MTV hasn’t yet called me for at least an hour episode of True Life because “how does this stuff even happen to you anyway?” Thus, I’m sure there will be more stories to tell. But I would like to say thanks for it while it’s on my mind – for reading and for following along.
Well, judge me for this (or not) but I’m going to go stow away my french phone for mon prochain séjour (because there’s going to be one!) and then watch some Vampire Diaries. The “what now?” now applies to Damon’s evil doings, Stefan’s search for humanity and the Bella-esque heroine who doesn’t bite her lip and actually speaks. Oh, I am coming down and hitting reality fast.
I have to continually remind myself of this idea – that it’s better to have experienced, to have seen, to have learned, to have met, to have known someone than it is to not have had that chance at all. But with the series of goodbyes and au revoir’s over the course of the past week and a half, I’m still not too sure this is making it any easier – only showing me that the pit in my stomach is a sign that the past four months were worth it. I had the chance to meet the most amazing people: 31 people at AUCP who, each in their own way, made this experience unforgettable; a host family – complete with live in host brother – who, upon closing the door to my 3rd floor apartment for the last time, really felt like an extension of my real family; a certain fun loving, green/blue-eyed boy who made me laugh simply by looking at me and saying “thanks for it” and who made me realize that having no emotions means you miss out on, well, life.
And so I’ve seen that goodbyes, in any language, just plain suck. But I’ve also come to learn that the deeper the pit in your stomach, the harder it is to fight back the tears as you walk away from the car and the more you find a smile creeping onto your face simply at the mention of a word that makes you think of “that time in Aix,” the more worth it those relationships are. It’s the stories, the too many bottles (or boxes!) of rosé, the Thursdays where you got sucked into the abyss of RoMarc’s apartment and didn’t wander out until 5am – all the while wondering “how did we stay that for that long?”; the games of “Never Have I Ever” where you really never have had a ménage-a-dix with an entire fraternity; the massive 4 scoops of gelato ice cream on the Cours Mirabeau simply because “well, we had a hard day, right?” It’s Crêpes A-Go-Go every Tuesday or seeing half of the AUCP at Book-in-Bar at any given point, at any given hour, on any given day, probably drinking tea and eating a scone; it’s talking ourselves into random purchases because, well, pourquoi pas?..then again, it’s justifying just about anything with pourquoi pas?! It’s been an envie d’ailleurs and an envie de revenir; swearing to a Sober Oktober only to jump right back into a glass of wine because, bien sûr, you can’t say no to Martine and Didier.
And as I sit here at my computer, I can’t even pick apart my memories because they all seem too fresh to harvest – to separate and put into words, into descriptions on a computer screen – they just seem like yesterday. So my stories, my mini-escapades will stay as one big film reel of souvenirs for a few days more…I have an 8 hour plane ride, after all, to sort through them. But I do see now that it’s true: It’s better to have loved. Every song ends, but we can still enjoy the music. We do things for the rush, the thrill, the story. If for nothing else, we do it for the experience. And I’m happy to have had this one, no matter how hard it is to leave.
Need I say more? After two days in Lucerne, Switzerland the Vitali girls are returning back to France, a country where we have some idea of what’s going on and how to communicate, and finally finally being rejoined by their fourth member – thus making this Eurotrip complete. All of this in time for the previously loathed and despised holiday called Christmas in Paris! Author’s note: I’m making progress, but play me any Christmas song that doesn’t involve heartbreak and sorry (aka anything other than “Last Christmas”) and I’ll really have to try not to slap you. One can only make so much progress in a few months.
Waking up bright and early tomorrow for a train then a plane back to Paris. If I don’t get around to posting until after: Merry Christmas Eve & Happy Present Opening!
Well readers, you’re getting your accounts in somewhat real time. My shaking and badly in need to some heat in the joint body is currently bundled in my not equipped for this weather jacket and Uggs and I am now just passing time until my train to Paris arrives. Rather uneventful morning otherwise but things really are in motion now for the start of the end! Positives to enduring this cold right now: Hannah, snuggling and hot chocolate in less than 4ish hours, Mommy, Lyssy and Lucerne in 1 day, Sweet Lou himself touching down in Paris in only 3 days and then back to Aix for some family fun! Bring. It. On.
Bisous, A very cold Ali
I’ve always said that I would never want to be the last roommate to leave the house on The Real World. And so when I realized yesterday that I would be one of the last AUCP’ers to leave Aix this weekend (only to return and be toute seule aussi!) I suddenly began to sympathize with Snooki and all the last ones who came before her. Regardless, being last has made me start thinking about goodbyes. And a hard, sad, tear-filled goodbye it will be. But I can’t help but think its not all bad. That pit in your stomach means you’re saying goodbye to something that was worth having, worth cultivating, worth smiling and crying at at the same time. Now, coming from me, these sentences must be shocking. Afterall, I’m the person who truly believes that emotional separation from other members of the human race is the best way to avoid sadness – and trust me, goodbyes are made easier.
But I’ve come to see that this belief is, well, dumb. I adore the people I’ve met here. In fact, I owe most of them huge thank you’s for opening my eyes to the world around me. I’ve (re)learned that you can, and should, let people in and that being dark and twisty can also be coupled with lots of bright moments filled with laughter and smiles. And from this lesson, I’ve gained the most wonderful souvenirs of the people who have been here in Aix with me. I’ll even go so far as to say this: I don’t HATE christmas and I have emotions. God that was difficult. But I now find myself in the same place as when I got here: eyes teary, next to my desk, sweatpants on, bags half-packed, squinting at a screen writing this entry bc (after 4 months of trying) I still have no internet in my little bedroom corner of Provence. Save for this time, I’m crying for a different reason, my desk has had many nights of studying upon it, and my eyes have seen the most amazing 4 months that I never even imagined.
So I may be leaving…but only for a short while! And with this weather, maybe not at all. If European blizzards have nothing to say about it, I’m off to Paris tomorrow, Switzerland til Friday and then Aix on Monday! And while it’ll be weird to not call Audrey or Laura or Jamie or anyone else to boire une verre on the Cours with me, I’ll have my family here and I guess some French kid to keep me company 🙂
And it’s when you look at things from far away that it’s easier to appreciate them. For me, it’s taken being far away from Tulane to realize just how many great things there are about it: the city in general, but more importantly the people that make it the wonderful, living, breathing thing I’m so in love with. Now, this is not a bearing on France – this place is wonderful and has done well by me – but I’m coming to see that there’s just something about a Tulane Student state of mind that is just impossible to recreate anywhere else and in any other group of people. And it’s for that that, while it’s going to be a tearful good-bye to Aix and the people who have lived it with me, I couldn’t be more excited to go back to a place where – no matter how tired you are – Thursday means F&Ms, Friday means Happy Hour, Saturday means any and all of the above and Sundays bring a day of PJs coffee, Favori’s, home work and the return to being a real human being for the next 4(ish) days (no matter what).
I feel the need to start with these next 5 words that will make you smile, because they were an integral ingredient to my current – dare I say – happy mood. “I really like being with you.” It’s simple, it’s not over done, it’s not even overly clingy! They’re just five words that, let’s face it, we all love to be surprised with. Whether it be from a boyfriend/girlfriend, a friend, a new acquaintance, it’s nice to know that we’ve done our job of being fun and likable without even realizing it, or without even particularly trying.
These five words topped off what could be one of the more fulfilling days I’ve had in Aix thus far – being that I felt successful having just finished a full semester of classes, all in French! Felicitations AUCPers! I then wound my way to Crêpes-A-GoGo (milles mercis à Florian) where Christy, Jamie and I celebrated the real beginning of the real end of our time here in Aix. What better way than with crêpes? I then found myself at Belle Epoque for 2 hours as I had my last farewell martini(s) with Prater who leaves France on Sunday for the good ol’ US of A. (See you at Mardi Gras, kid!) And as I sat there in BE, topping off two martini blancs with a café (espresso), I realized that it’s a million little things, little smiles, little phrases, little successes that create those days that seem, just, well, great. And for me, today was – inadvertently – just that.
On to finals! Womp womp. That was a downer.
So not that this realllly fits, but I only have “one day more” of classes. And that makes me think of this. *sigh* Oh mental affiliations…enjoy!