So today is the day! Soon enough I will be en route to the airport for my flight to Paris. I can’t believe the day is finally here. It almost feels surreal. You know when you think or speak of something for so long and then—poof!—it’s actually happening and you begin to wonder, ‘Wait a minute? Did I do this? Oh yeah. I did. I made that happen.’ I’m equal parts excited/proud and nervous/stunned.
Many people have asked me questions about this whole move—ahem—relocation. (Or, rather, sabbatical as a fellow traveler wisely suggested I call it.) Since some of you didn’t get the spiel and they’re pretty smart questions (not to mention I haven’t posted in a few weeks), I figured I’d type ’em out here, along with my responses, so you get an idea of the “how” and the “why” of this impending adventure.
What are you going to do there?
Essentially, the same thing I’m doing here. At least that’s the plan. Now that I’m almost two years into this freelance gig and feeling fairly comfortable and confident with the work I’m getting for US publications, sites and media companies such as Hemispheres, Yahoo Travel, CNT, The Daily Beast, Masthead etc., I believe I can write/edit/blog/interview, etc. from just about any postal code in the world. Sure, there will be a time difference. But the way I see it, I’ve got the advantage. With a few extra hours in the morning before New York wakes up, I can have uninterrupted time to work on actually writing (as opposed to emailing and Facebook-ing and chatting and every other online interference there is) or, I don’t know, visit the water lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie or eat a crepe at West Country Girl.
Where are you going to live?
For the first two months, starting immediately when I arrive Wednesday morning, I will be subletting a studio that I found through my Parisian friend Adeline, who I actually met thanks to an article I wrote for Urbis magazine. It’s furnished and in the 9e, otherwise known as South Pigalle. It’s not an arrondissement I’m super familiar with, but apparently “everybody wants to live there” (so says Adeline) and it’s nearby lots of shops and cafes and wine bars. (All of which are so completely key, n’est pas?) Plus, she seemed to think renting from a friend (or a friend of a friend) will be a helluva lot easier than joining the rat race with every other Parisian looking for a good deal with a partial view and natural light.
Do you know anyone?
Not really. Aside from the aforementioned Adeline, I’m arriving sans amies. That said, this was the case when I went to London and thanks to several people who connected me to people they knew there, I left with lifelong friends. I’ve already got a list of people to contact in Paris for a rendez-vous as soon as I settle in. Plus, there’s always Tinder. Just kidding, Mom! (Sorta.)
Can you speak French?
Un peu. As some of you know, I took a course this past summer (and the summer before that) and know the rudimentary basics after having also taken the language way back in High School. I’m coming armed with my course book, notes and the awesome app Duo Lingo, which tests conversational skills via a game-like interface. In an ideal world, I find someone who wants to learn English and we can meet up once a week to converse in each other’s native tongues sorta like that book French Lessons, which at least 5 separate people have told me to read.
Why aren’t you staying for Thanksgiving/How did you choose this departure date?
I am fortunate to live close to my family, and so I see them quite often for more than just holidays and special occasions. (We do dinners, movies, museums and the like just because!) There’s always going to be some other reason for us to gather—a birthday, Hanukkah, the arrival of a new puppy (!!!)—and so I chose to skip Turkey Day. (As luck would have it, the puppy—Miss Maggie Mae—arrived earlier than we thought so I got to cuddle with the cutie for a good three days.) As for this exact date, to be honest it started off random. Before I found this sublet, I was planning to stay at an AirBnB for the first 10 days and feverishly run around Paris looking for a lease that began on Dec. 1. I figured arriving at the end of the month would give me enough time to find something for the beginning of the next. It wasn’t until after I clicked “purchase” on my AA flight did I remember 18 itself is somewhat of a lucky number for us Jews: In Hebrew it’s “Chai,” which means life. (This is why when Jews donate or gift money, they often do it in denominations of 18—ie., 36, 54, 72, 90, etc.) I liked the idea that I was embarking on the unknown (despite having secured a place to stay for awhile) on a day that symbolizes life itself. Which brings me to…
Why are you going to Paris again?
For the same reason my nearly-retired parents just got a new puppy: Why not? (I had to remind my Dad of this reason just the other night as he watched my Mom clean up another one of Maggie’s “accidents” for the umpteenth time.) If I’m answering this question more literally, it’s because I truly felt a connection to this city, love the language and really want to dive deep into another culture. London was an amazing experience in its own right, and I always knew I’d want more if it didn’t go beyond the three months (which it didn’t). Also, I have chosen a new career path that allows me the fortunate ability to chase after my dreams, one of which is to see the world and settle into another city for a longer period of time. If I’m answering the question more abstractly, I’d say:
“We only live once!”
“If not today, when?”
“Do what you can do tomorrow, TODAY!”
Or any other number of cliché quotes you’ve read on one of those black square quote cards they sell at stationary stores. Sure, there will be obstacles and mishaps and a learning curve. But in my experience, those often provide the best stories and experiences. Once Maggie learns to go outside to pee, and she stops tugging on shoelaces or crying at 3a.m., she will undoubtedly become a new best friend whose unconditional love will leave my dad wondering, “What was life like without her?” And he’ll “remember when,” fondly (hopefully!) with a smile. And once I settle into Paris and eventually stop ordering a piece of bateau (boat) instead of gateau (cake) and taking the metro without looking at a map or thinking more in euros than dollars, I know I, too, will have grown up and fulfilled a dream in the process. And so, pourquoi pas? To life—l’chaim!