June 30, 2009

Paris, je t'aime...


It's been exactly two years now since we arrived here in Paris. And what a time it has been!

I remember it as if it were yesterday, how me and my girls were sitting in that plane holding hands while it took off, taking a last look at what had been our home for five and a half years, and how the three of us started crying. The weeks before had been very intense - the packing, the farewell parties, saying goodbye to daddy who left earlier to get us installed at our new place across the Atlantic, the last hugs and goodbye kisses from our very best friends, the early morning trip to the airport.

But I also remember the feeling of relief when we finally got in Paris - the feeling of coming home somehow, being closer to relatives again, as if a weight was falling off my shoulders. Though I really loved our Californian life, and never felt homesick (except for Fall each year, mainly because we missed the change of seasons), I often felt some sort of burden: K. and I were the only family our girls had over there, their only roots. "What if something would happen to us?", often crossed my mind. But we had wonderful years there - a good life, surrounded by the best friends imaginable. California definitely changed me. Being a rather shy person, I opened up, for one thing...

And then all of the sudden there was Paris. It just happened to us, just like California happened to us. We never planned on going abroad, but we did. Paris wasn't an easy decision. The girls would have to give up a lot: their friends, the open space they'd been used to as long as they could remember, the pools, the lovely weather, and so much more. But our main worry was the language: the girls didn't speak a word of French... how would they deal with that?

That was then. Now, we've been here for two years and we love it. The girls are doing great, are both fluent in French - to be honest: they teach me how to speak French. I'm often surprised about their amazingly wide vocabulary. I've caught my self checking the dictionary more than once, lately, to look up a new word or expression H.'s been using. Unlike K. and me, they speak it with no accent. The English is still there, but the French becomes more prominent. People on the metro often look surprised when they hear us jump from one language to the other.
Both girls made plenty of new friends, M. toughened up a bit which is a good thing (she's such a sweet, gentle and empathic girl it sometimes hurts...), and H. fits in perfectly with her natural flamboyant style. All this didn't happen overnight. It was a bit of a bumpy road. To be honest, those first six months were hard and I thought or even yelled more than once how much "I hated this place". That was then, this is now: "Paris, je t'aime!"

I'm planning on a series of posts about Paris the coming weeks.
Let that be one of my blogging plans for summer...
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