I recently moved back to the States. My daily life is completely different, but actually the adjustment has been fine. It was by choice, so that helps. I lived a beautiful chapter in France—it was my second chapter there—and I feel very lucky that I did.
When I first started this blog, I was content in Paris and didn’t yet know how long I’d be there, but I had an inkling that at some point I’d go back to where I’m from. That’s why the title is in English and French and I didn’t call it a travel blog or “Life in France.”
I began writing here because I was already writing and taking a lot of photos for myself, not only on trips but also in daily life. I always have my camera in my bag because even on a run to the supermarket or a walk in a local park, I never know when I’ll see something interesting or beautiful. I don’t have a fancy camera or use the features of mine to full capacity, but I like to capture different scenes and show them to friends and acquaintances who would not have the opportunity to see them otherwise. I still whip out the photo of me with a Johnny Hallyday impersonator if a French person mentions him and then says, “Oh, but you’re American, you probably don’t know who that is.” In response, I flip through my digital images and say, “I put my arm around him in the flesh, deep in the heart of your country!” Okay, not the real one, but I attended a whole concert of his songs, surrounded by Johnny fans in leather vests…
Anyway, as I mentioned, I write a lot, both for myself and in correspondence with friends who like to write letters via email or the postal service. I also like to see and do a lot, so I figured, why not share some of these slices of life?
I’m sure there are friends that don’t know I have this blog simply because it doesn’t come up in conversation. Once in a while it does, and I give them the link if they’re interested. A few friends give me feedback on it, but I mostly have no idea which ones read it without commenting.
I started reading blogs maybe six or seven years ago, if we’re referring to the blog in its current form. A few years prior to that, in high school, I did have classmates who had Xanga and Livejournal pages (were these online journals popular outside of the United States?), but those tended to be full of angst, at least the ones I saw. I also never would have had the thought to search for the Xanga page of someone that I didn’t know.
I have no recollection of how I started reading blogs, but I think one of the first I followed was written by a young American woman who lived in France at the time. From there I branched out to blogs about expats and travel and blogs completely unrelated to those topics. It’s really interesting to read certain people’s perspectives and stories. Some posts touched and helped me when I was going through a difficult time. It was a great reassurance to know that someone went through an experience I could deeply relate to, one my friends hadn’t necessarily lived. To me that’s one of the goals of the internet: to create connection that would not have been probable otherwise.
I learn a lot from your comments, often things I didn’t know– about France, other countries, or any variety of subjects. It’s been very interesting writing without being able to make assumptions about where the reader hails from. When I speak with an American, I know that I can go right into a story about Martha Stewart, whereas I will have to give some background on Johnny before I recount my experience at his impersonator’s concert. When I speak with a French person, I know that I can straightaway show my picture with Johnny’s sosie, whereas I’m going to have to find the words to explain what I mean by the term “domestic goddess.” How many times have I said in French, “Well, Martha Stewart makes creative things, and she had a TV show and became rich and famous, and then she went to prison, and then she made a comeback…” And I explain what kinds of things she makes and that she is a household name, and find the words for insider trading, and at the end of it I’m still pretty sure that the other person doesn’t have a full sense of Martha’s persona.
On the other hand, here I work under the assumption that some of you don’t know that Mister Rogers educated a generation of American children or that SNCF operates train lines. I like that.
Thank you for following along thus far. Your dialogue has made my outlook richer. I have some more travel stories up my sleeve, and I’ll be sharing daily life here in the States.