Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Longer You've Been Away, The More You Cry-- Reading Kat Flinn & Crying my eyes out

I just finished Kathleen Flinn's "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry". Nothing I have read in the past year and a half since returning from studying abroad in Paris has conjured up so many memories of the City of Light or so many tears from my eyes.

It always seemed to me that people went abroad to their country of choice and had the time of their life-- making new friends from across the globe, travelling all around the region they are staying in, in Europe hoping from country to country every weekend, etc. Of course I figured it would be no different for me. I don't know if I had been more excited for anything as I was to leave for Paris. I decided I would go abroad late in the game, bored with my school and seeing the same people everyday on our campus of about 5,000. I was ready to change it up for my senior year so I didn't leave Geneseo bored and bitter. Plus I knew it was the best time to get away without being weighed down my bills, loans, rent, a job etc (all of which I have to deal with now!) and didn't want to let to opportunity pass. I applied in winter for the program, was accepted in early spring and had a long summer to work and prepare to leave in late September.

All summer long everything I said and did was about Paris. Paris came up to everyone who asked me about school; once I knew some of the people in my program we started e-mailing/IMing/facebooking; every other sentence from my mouth seemed to have Paris in it. I couldn't wait.

My trip really started with packing... packing too much! I worked at New York & Company the whole summer before leaving, so with my employee discount and their constant sales I amassed a whole new wardrobe which of course I felt I needed to bring with me! Bad idea.. should have saved my euros to get new clothes in Paris. So I set out to the airport with my parents and 3 ridiculously heavy suitcases which I think will be no problem because I am meeting our program director at the airport and we are being brought into the city on a tour bus.

We come into the city and I am eager to get to my foyer where I will be living for the next four months which is located on Ile St-Louis-- the smaller of the two Parisian islands located in the Seine. Unfortunately my quaint little island does not allow tour buses on it! This news is not good due to my heavy load to carry. I struggle across Pont de la Tournelle then a nice man offers to help me and I accept immediatement. I am surprised and delighted. I'm a little anxious so I don't let him walk all the way to Foyer la Vigie with me-- just in case.

The courtyard to the foyer is charming. The next challenge is getting my luggage up 6 flights of a worn down slippery spiral staircase up to my room. It works out well enough that I leave my open suitcase on the bottom and bring my things up seprately. Though I packed too much, I still packed smartly and used the large ziploc bags to put all my things in so this was easy.

By the time I'm done I try to set up the internet only to find there is no internet in my room (some say its because the buildings are too old and the walls to thick, i think its just because la vigie like to keep somethings un peu ancien). This led me, my overtired, hungry, jetlagged self to start the fountain of what would unfortunately be many tears falling Paris. 

So I was home sick nearly the whole first month of my stay; thought about seriously leaving within the first week. It was all ridiculous but I certainly grew (up) from it and do not regret how I spent Paris at all. It all boiled down to loneliness and fear which eased each day I was there. I got a good sense of a handful of areas in the city and cannot WAIT! to get back with my loved ones and be able to play tour guide. 

Paris continued and I began to see her beauties daily. In the patisseries the beauty came in the form of sugary confections and fresh baguettes and pain au chocolat; on the streets the beauty was in the old buildings, the street performers, school children running wild, and of course the lovers kissing on every bridges; indoors were the greatest beauties passed through the ages at the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay, and even within each peek into Paris' many courtyards hidden by large metal doors which open up to reveal little oasis' at the center of apartment buildings. Paris is a place that has not left me and is forever in my heart. Flinn's wonderful descriptions rekindled many memories for me that I had nearly forgotten; for this I am very grateful. 

Reading "The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry" had me tearing up every couple pages and longing for Paris worse than before I left for the first time. Merci Meeze Fleen!

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

Wow! Your pen to paper is so enlightening and awe inspiring. I look forward to your next blog. PS why didn't your parents that took you to the airport tell you that you packed too much?