I have officially moved back home! Home being a country I have not lived in for 8 years (France), or more specifically, a city (Paris) I have not lived in for 23 years. I’ve felt more like a tourist than a citoyenne in my own city the last few weeks. My ‘how to be French’ software needs some serious updating. My ‘how to be Parisienne’ one was never installed. My four year-old brain was too busy with acquiring ‘theory of mind’and creating imaginary friends at the time my parents fled Paris. So I’ve returned to my roots, armed with four years of Scottish-living and three intense years of Swedification. Full disclosure: I also happen to be half-American, which means that part of me is always in tourist mode.
I do not regret moving away. And I do not regret coming back home after all these years, even though this means most of my friendships have been reduced to digital interactions. It’s great to have all these friends in the US, UK, Sweden, and Germany but it makes meeting up for coffee a little challenging. Living abroad means developing some perspective. You become more acutely aware of your country’s shortcomings in comparison to your new adopted home. The French need to work on equality of the sexes and become more vegetarian friendly, for example. You also start missing and thus valuing those aspects of your country that make it special. I’ve sorely missed good bread and French wit these past few years. In fact, the longer you are away from home, the more obsessed you become with these ‘special aspects’. It’s always good to go back for a reality check – to face all the strikes and foul moods! I wonder if, soon enough, it will be the other way around; You’ll find me in the metro, hiding behind an Astrid Lindgren book pining away for kanelbulle and punctual buses.
So what is the theme of my blog? I plan to write about settling into Parisian life. I’ll dole out unsolicited opinions concerning France and French culture from my Swedified/Scottified/Americanized pedestal. Here’s a preview: In Sweden, I used to wear short skirts in the T-bana, and no one bothered me – except one or two grannies with their impeccable and unforgiven side eye. Last Saturday, though, I wore a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers to a bar. I got my ass grabbed. I had one guy tell me all the things he would do to me if he wasn’t married. I got enough leers to long for the side eye. Granted, it was not the nicest area in all of Paris. The clever ones are more subtle about it – but it still reflects an overall problem in French society. But enough French bashing…that would be just so French of me. How about what I am grateful for? Since I have been home, I’ve had entertaining, sometimes nonsensical, always banterous conversations with waiters, bartenders, Uber drivers and random night-goers on the streets. Honestly, I love nothing more than a perfect stranger telling you their life story on some random street at 2am – a sadly rare occurrence in the introvert nation of Sweden but a typical Saturday night in Paris.
I am mostly writing this blog because, whilst I am confused about every single other thing in my life, I know that writing makes me happier than anything else (well that, and dancing in front of my bathroom mirror in the morning). Basically, I will write about everything and nothing. Call me the Macron of blogging – no set program here, just random ideas and the desire to amuse.