I drove up into the SB mountains. It is a warm summer night and I am surrounded by three or four of my closest friends. We are sitting at a look out spot along the road. I look out and on this clear night I can see from Montecito to Goleta, the oil rigs looking light sailboats shining on the ocean. The air is no colder than 75 degrees with a gentle breeze rising from the valley before us. We start talking about everything that we've done in the last four years and all I can think about is my experiences last year in Paris. How much my life changed in that time abroad.
Every time I close my eyes, I go to that place. It is next summer, I am with my friends. I am back in Santa Barbara with France behind me. I did it. I conquered this seemingly unconquerable year. I survived and I am back where I know. As for now, my reality is very much different than my idealized future. As I sit here writing this, I am still at chez Michele. I can hear cars go up rue Lacède every few minutes. I know that if I was hungry I could go outside and get a homemade crepe and eat it on my bed.
And I know that in three days I will be in a different part of this city living with a different host family. The de Fleurieu's are taking me in for the next week. Assuming everything goes well with the wire transfers and we can move into our apartment, I'll be in on a week from this Saturday. And my life will change yet again.
It seems that during my time abroad, the only constant thing is change. I know, I know, its corny and cliché, but clichés exist for a reason. I have been in France for a month and a day and in that time my world has been turned upside down. In that time I have gotten to know a French family, made friends with kids from Europe, the South Pacific, Asia, North America and South America. I have given a presentaion on France's Military Footprint in Africa to a policy advisor for the French Ministry of Defense. I have traveled to a foreign country by myself where I stayed with a friend from high school. I have made plans to go to Scotland with a friend to visit another friend (both from UCSB), bought concert tickets to see Michael Bublé here in Paris and made plans to have my brother come over and visit me for thanksgiving. I have become an english tutor for two preteens and a gentleman in this thirties. I went from barely understanding spoken French to being able to watch movies in French sans subtitles.
My life has changed so much and I have only been here for four and a half weeks. With seventy five days left until I return to the United States I can only imagine what will happen. I know that I have to give five more presentations in French between now and then. I know I have to write a twenty page memoir in French comparing two law systems and defend it in front of a jury of three people. And above all I know that I will survive this. That is the one thing that helps me.
I'm not quite sure why, but this week has been super difficult for me. I haven't been able to make it one day without an anxiety attack. Not a major one mind you, but a good freak out. And talking with my family has helped. Thank god for skype. But the one thing that I helps me at this point is the fact that with every breath I take, I am that much closer to being with them again. Every second that passes is a second I survived here. And I am looking forward to the day when my favorite part of it isn't crossing another x off my calendar.
But as for now, the visions of next summer, of traveling with Nana, of my Dad and JoAnn coming over in Spring, of Nick coming over in November and of Mom coming in May are what get me through this.