Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Ma petite "boîte" française

Thought I'd post some pictures of the new pad.
The first night in the apartment was bizarre and lonely. Sleeping in a new bed, in a strange place, with foreign sounds and NO INTERNET made me feel agitated and anxious. I carelessly burned through 35 euro worth of phone credit-an amount that can last me two months- on a meager 20 minute phone call home. And when the line cut abruptly short, I was left with a silence that slithered and squeezed so tightly around my chest, I felt I might never breathe in again.

I did.

Within a few days I found my way; slowly creating new rhythm and routine. Finding solace in music, or podcasts, or bits of conversation heard through thin wall. To be honest, learning to be by myself has been an experience that I do not take for granted. I am only now becoming aware of how immensely important this experience is for me. I realize that though there are times I crave solitude (I think we all do) I typically feel uneasy on my own. Perhaps due to the fact that I have rarely been by myself in my life. I come from a very close family, which I adore and love being around, and as far back as I can remember have always had at least one friend with whom I was joined at the hip. For the past four years, I've been lucky to be in a relationship where I can spend endless amounts of time with my bf, and it's never stifling, but rather wonderful. That's not to say that I don't have moments of solitude in my life; I often enjoy running or walking around the city or shopping on my own, however given the choice of doing those activities with others has always seemed like more fun to me. If I'm honest, I think I shy away from being by myself because I am terrified of loneliness-a feeling I confuse with being inept, pathetic, a failure- as it is something I find horribly debilitating.

I see now that it doesn't have to mean those things. While often unpleasant, feeling lonely can be a freeing, strengthening and ultimately a human experience. I have yet to meet one person who hasn't felt truly loneliness at one time in their life. Why are we, or rather, am I, so afraid to admit it?

Though I enjoy being able to go out with my friends more now that I live in the city, and it is a struggle pushing myself (a home-body) out of this 17 m2 apartment to try new things, I am, to some extent, enjoying my loneliness. I wouldn't go as far to say that I love it, but it has forced me to shift my thinking about myself and what I am capable of, and I am appreciative about that. At the end of the day, coming home to a quiet apartment isn't that bad after all...

...unless one is without internet. The horror!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Back in France

January 8, 2010

Yesterday was my first day back at work. Due to the jet lag, I woke up around 4:30 am, and despite my effort to stay in bed for another hour, I gave up and got out of bed. When I stepped out the door into the cold morning I had to do a double take. For a minute I thought I was still in Toronto. Snow was falling heavily from the sky and the ground was blanketed in white. By the time I reached Evry I couldn’t believe how much snow there was. I felt the way one might feel to see a familiar face in a foreign place; “Hey! What are YOU doing here?!” Happy that keeping my furry mukluks in France hadn’t been such an absurd idea after all, I marched on through the snow, my hood pulled down and my scarf tightly around my face and felt very Canadian. My heart went out to some of the people I passed by slipping on the ice, their meager running shoes soaked through to their feet. It was a peaceful walk along the quiet path through the woods before the chaos of school that lay ahead. When I arrived, the kiddies were very happy to see me and I was just as pleased to see them. Unfortunately, due to the snow only 4 out of 9 teachers were able to make it in. Even the principal called in to report that she was stuck in gridlock traffic on the auto-route. One teacher frantically asked me if I would be able to take a class until their teacher showed up. “Oui, biensur, pas de probleme!” Luckily, I was with my favourite class. The other teachers started moving teacher-less classes to a larger room where they quickly put on a video and the part-time secretary was obliged to watch them. I felt like a real teacher as I sat at Michel’s desk and took attendance (I made them reply in English). When that was finished I led them in a little morning warm up exercise. They giggled as we ran on the spot, did jumping jacks, and stretched, but at least it got the blood going. Then I did an impromptu English lesson with them for as long as I could hold their attention. Still no teacher. “Um, okay class, who wants to tell me what they did over the holidays?” Thankfully they were all willing to tell me in utmost detail, even though I didn’t quite understand everything they said. When one girl explained how her parents got so drunk on New Years Eve that she had to take care of all her siblings, I decided to steer the conversation in a different direction. The bell rang for recess and I told the kids to go out and play in the snow. Finally, a replacement teacher showed up for about the last hour of the morning and gave them some proper work to do.
The rest of the day wasn’t as eventful. I began to feel exhausted around 3 pm and embarrassingly started nodding off in one of my classes. In my defense I had finished the English lesson and had nothing to do but sit at the back of the class (beside the heater) and wait for the end of the day. Their teacher, whom I get along really well with, politely told me that if I wanted to go home early it wouldn’t be a big deal. I initially declined, but when she persisted, I quickly agreed. Finally got home around 6:30 pm as there was slight delays on the train due to the snow, put my pj’s on, and plopped myself beside the fireplace to warm up. I am kind of glad that I have another week with Aulivia’s family before I move in to my own apartment because I think I might have felt a bit lonely on my own after being surrounded by so much family over the holidays. Now if I can just get over this jet lag...