Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Closure and other follies

I don’t know how many people read my blog. I’ve always hoped, like everyone who starts a blog, that it reached absolutely everyone that I could imagine. I’m glad you’re reading at least this once, whoever you are. 
I left France about a month, a week, and one day ago. I got on the plane in Paris alone with tears in my eyes and, not to be dramatic, but feeling like I’d left my heart, my stomach and other important body organs on the boarding deck. 
I didn’t want to make a fuss or a mess or hurt anybody, including myself. I wanted to slip quietly out of the back door in the middle of the night with my ticket and forget everything. If you know me, you’d know this was absolutely impossible. I’ve always been one to march in broad daylight out the front door, swearing fighting and crying a little bit. And then I would slam the door in your face, giving you a nice bruise on top of the heart wrenching insults I’d burned you with like a cigarette on bare skin. Of course, I hadn’t meant a word of it, but I’ve fooled the best. 
I left France about two months earlier than scheduled. That’s not news to anyone. As soon as I got back to my little Michigan town I made a point to show up just about everywhere, especially my old school, to provoke surprised and slightly bemused faces. A few cases lead to screaming shock and a really nice tackling hug. That much was satisfying. The rest felt like a badly acted stage play some college sophomore wrote for her theatre class. Coming back was more difficult than I imagined. I slipped into some old habits, at some points forgetting who I’d become and just fell off the wagon. Well, I’m back on that wagon now. To leave a culture and suddenly be dropped into the old one is incredibly difficult. To leave your best friends is also an awful feat to discover. To leave the people who became your family. Your new language. So, basically, everything that makes one’s life so important. It was spiritually taxing, to say the least. But like I said, I jumped back on the wagon again. Better late than never. 
I left (or, was prodded towards my departure so forcibly it stopped seeming polite) France on regrettable circumstances. No rules, laws (written or unwritten) were broken. Nothing dramatic arrived on my doorstep. So much so that my eight months as an exchange student is actually to be validated and I get to go to the big july student conference. Where we can all sing kumbayah and celebrate each other’s radically life altering experiences. Hurrah. I however, will be feeling how I guess a midget must sometimes feel. Stunted a few crucial inches below everyone else, still with the same general makeup but feeling like a regrettable piece is missing. Maybe it’s just an exaggeration of how I’ve always felt. Not quiet getting along with the crowd, feeling like less or more than what is put in front of me and not knowing how to deal with the circumstances. As if everyone is speeding away with their motorboats and I’m headed in my wooden canoe in the other direction--looking back to see your reactions, but drifting away all the same. 
These metaphors might sound sad or strange or like I’m searching for the right sympathy. I’m not. My last crucial weeks in France and, especially some very crucial persons I met towards the end of my experience taught me that being an individual is really frickin special. The troubles we meet and face will steer us towards a more unique outlook and (if we play the cards right) will bring us to mountaintops in the future. That’s how I’m able to write this blog post at all. I care what you think, but, I will say what I want and guard my own opinions for myself and do as I choose. If I love you, I will love your guts out. I will follow you until the cliffs at the edge of the planet, I will sing your praises until the cows come home, take care of you and never let you forget it. I really am a very loving person. This goes for family, close friends, others, ect. But unless you’re extremely special to me, it’s usually about Number One. I got accused a lot for this in France. Tu pense seulement pour toi, toi, TOI!!! Yes, it is about me me and me. Maybe this makes me difficult to live with. It’s possible for this to make you think of me as a lesser person. Great. Go write me a book about that. You shove it in my face and tell me I’m a bad person. I’ll end up smiling at you and carrying on with my life. 
That is what eight months on your own does. It makes you strong. I am stronger, smarter and better than when I left. That’s what I came to France to do. I am also fluent in French. I made the best friends that it is possible to make. I really found myself. My agenda wasn’t that lengthy. That’s what I wanted, so that’s what I got. I screwed up, felt miserable, hated everyone around me. I wanted those things too. What perfectly sane person could ask for anything more? I fell down so I could make myself get up, and discovered how to live. I congratulate every other exchange student so profusely and proudly, but I hope they got to do and feel half of what I did. 
So THANK YOU, jesus, buddha, mohammed, whoever you are. THANK YOU for the time I had in France. I would take every miserable day all over again to receive what I earned--every experience that made me who I am now. I started a serious trek to self and world discovery. And it’s never going to stop, no matter how I get there. 
thanks for reading my blog and supporting me throughout the past year
I would say I couldn’t have done it without you, but that would be a lie.