The Return: Reflections A Month LaterParis BIA, Fall 2011

I’m sitting on my bed, in my room, surrounded by my things with the voices of my family drifting through my house… and you’d think after a month of being home my life would seem perfectly back to normal. And it does feel normal, familiar, but there’s something different. It took me a few weeks to figure it out, but I think I’ve finally got it. All my life, I’ve loved home. Like many people, home for me has signified a place of comfort, safety, welcome and infinite love that I can always come back to without question. I’ve always found peace within its walls when the outside world gave me hell. I’ve always felt a pang of apprehension whenever I know I have to leave it for a long time, not knowing that I will find the same comfort and love wherever I am going. Leaving home to live abroad was certainly one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made, but I thought that if I didn’t do it out of fear of the unknown, I would always regret it. Truly, I made the right decision, for although living abroad brought me all the wonderful things I had hoped for, the thrill and beauty of living in Paris, trips to other spectacular cities, daily first-hand history and culture lessons, and many new friends of more than one nationality, it is the unexpected gift for that I am most grateful. Confidence. Confidence in myself, in my own ability to adapt and to learn and to thrive and confidence that I could always find new places in this world to exercise these abilities. And not merely a desire to find these new places, but a sheer need. Since coming home, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about my next big adventure. Where should I go next? China? India? Morocco? Why not all three? I hear Charlie Sheen’s voice echoing in my head, “I have one speed, one gear…Go!” Of course I realize that these adventures will all come in good time, even if not right away, but the fact is as I sit here writing this I can’t shake the feeling that it’s going to be a long time before I can be at home without feeling a little restless…like the unlikely hobbit who just couldn’t settle down. The comparison sounds a bit silly, maybe, but truly I feel a new special connection with Bilbo Baggins, an understanding of his, as Iggy Pop puts it, “lust for life”. I think it’s always been there, otherwise I would have never come to Paris. I come into it now with less to fear and thus much more to gain. So I guess home has gone  from meaning a "comfort zone" to a place of personal growth, one that I will always be thankful for. Home is where you can be who you are. Home is where you can laugh, cry, and love without inhibition. Home is where you grow up, in the literal and figurative sense. Home is where you will always be welcome. With that being said, I of course consider Paris to be a “home”, one of many I hope to acquire. And for that, Paris, je t’aime toujours. I love you always.
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