Here I am. On top of the world. Back in Burgundy, with the beautiful French countryside at my feet, I have trouble defining the emotions I feel. Happy. Excited. A little nostalgic. Nervous. Different.
Different is a first. You know, there’s something about growing up that changes you. And yes, of course I mean that facetiously, but seriously, I feel so differently about France now that I am back. And about the future. When I first came to Dijon at about this time in 2008, I was happy, excited, a little nostalgic, and nervous. In such different ways.
I arrived the day before yesterday on a [rare] bright and sunny morning in Paris. Nico picked me up at the airport and we drove directly to Chatillon-sur-Seine, the little town where he lives — about an hour from my future home in Dijon. We had Croque Madames (Croque Mesdames?) for lunch and he showed me around and I wondered if it was real. Had the time passed so quickly — after having passed so slowly — and was I really here to stay (at least for a bit) and not just to visit for a few weeks?
It was like a dream. So much so that I hardly remember how the day passed…what we ate for dinner, for example. Oh, yes…poulet et une salade, with tomatoes from the garden. Sans egal.
Nico lives in the best part of Chatillon, his apartment overlooking the Seine, the same river that runs right beside Notre Dame de Paris. (Dad says it’s not that big of a deal, but I beg to differ.) From his wrap-around balcony I can hear both the quacking of ducks on the water and the quiet hum of the circulation in the streets. It is quiet here, and to say that Nico lives in the busiest part of town doesn’t say much. Can you spot more than a few people in the picture I took at noon today? Mais bon, welcome to France, where peaceful village life is respected and protected much more so than in suburban America.
So, what’s different? Not Chatillon, that’s for sure. I doubt much has changed here since the World War II bombardment, and the subsequent reconstructions. But my perspective has changed. As I settle in, still rubbing the proverbial sleep from my dreamy eyes, I see that this is no longer a goal I’ve worked toward, but a reality I have achieved. I’m here. This is my life. I am a teaching assistant in France and for the year ahead, this country is mine. What will happen afterward is yet to be decided, but for once I am going to stay in the moment and try not to lo0k so far ahead. I’m feeling differently.