Planes, trains, and automobiles! I’ve spent a lot of this week making my way via public transportation! In addition to coming to Dijon to sign the lease for my little studio, I also took the train to Beaune to meet with my directrice, Florence, at the ecole primaire where I will be assisting in all the classes from CE1 to CM2 — les petits ecoliers from seven to eleven years old. I’ve also opened a French bank account, planned a trip into Paris for tomorrow (which reminds me that I need to make that dinner reservation…), and made my way back to Dijon to spend yesterday and today with Josette (my ancienne mere d’acceuil) before I officially move into my own place this weekend. Phew! After a few weeks of tranquility in Chatillon, things are really starting to pick up steam.
And I have to say, in the midst of all this change, it is really nice to return to Josette’s familiar old house on Boulevard Carnot.
Yesterday I spent some time in the studio taking inventory of what I need to purchase to make this place a home. A bathmat. Sheets and a comforter. A pillow. One of those pitchers that boils water in two minutes so I can have the comfort of my cup of instant coffee (do we even have dissolvable coffee in the states?) every morning. Picture frames.
Then, right as I was going through my mental checklist, I was overwhelmed by a sensation I don’t remember feeling since boarding the plane the first time I came to study in France. It flooded my mind and rushed down my neck, into my fingertips, leaving my knees weak. I sat down at the little table by the window. I was afraid.
What if this is not where I am meant to be? What if I hate teaching? What if I never master the French language? What if the happy yellow-green walls of this tiny apartment crash in on me? What if all I want to do is go home?
Thoughts like this invaded my already light head as I looked out the window onto the gray street below. I forced a deep breath. Then another. Slowly, my instinctual “Attitude is Everything” voice (thanks, Dad) started talking me through my moment of distress. I’ve been here before. I’ve seen a lot of change already in my life. I thought of my parents and how grateful I am that even from far away I can feel their support. I thought of Jeanne, my French friend who moved to New York — a much bigger city than little Dijon — last year and loves it.
Finally, I reminded myself of the fact that “this is what you have wanted, this is what you have been planning since your first year in college.”
And I’m doing it.
Here I am, a little stressed, a little anxious, a little afraid. But right now, it’s exactly what I want.
Turning the key to lock the apartment, I decided I’d come back later — in a better frame of mind. I made my way down the spiral staircase, left the big old building, crossed Rue de la Liberte, then Rue Chabot Charny then Rue Buffon. Each step was a little lighter as I turned onto the street where I once lived. Chez Josette, I opened the door to the smell of dinner cooking and the table was set with a place especially for me.