Monday, January 10, 2005

Feeling like home... sort of

As I was walking to my class near Place Bellecour yesterday, a sudden warm, familiar feeling came over me. The weather was rather cold and gray, so it wasn't the sun. I'm in love, but I've been in love for a while, so I didn't think it would be that. Finally, as I reached the door of the Goethe Institut, I suddenly realized what it was. I felt at home.
This realization surprised me as I've frequently thought that even if I learned French fluently, it would always seem foreign at my core. I'd believed that even though I was having a good time here and I was staying here for an extended period, I would always feel like a stranger.
This feeling was depressingly amplified during my Christmas vacation back in the States. Before I went, I was thinking about lots of things that might seem weird after being acclimated to France, or the linguistical oddities in either French or English that I hadn't noticed before that might show up in this short "through the looking glass" experience.
What ended up shocking me the most, however, was how easy it was to fall back into the USA and English and never think about France. It scared me. I realize now more than ever that I have to make memories here while I can and I have to find ways of continuing to speak French when I come back.
It was true that when I first arrived in America, I would make mistakes like saying "guard" instead of "keep" or "occupy herself with" instead of however you angliphone freaks say that. And it's true that at the end I felt "home"sick for France, but that was really more because all my stuff was here and I missed my boyfriend. But I never believed that background feeling I constantly have here of not quite knowing exactly what's going on – or at least knowing that this not a place I know like my hometown – would disappear.
After the class at the Goethe Institut, during which I was congratulating myself for being so well-adjusted, I left for my Russian class on the other side of town. Sadly, not only did I wait at the wrong bus stop on the way there, thereby missing my bus and having to take an entirely new route which got me there 15 min. late, but I even *took* the wrong bus leaving there and ended up in the middle of nowhere, getting home a full hour and a half after the class ended. Needless to say, the feeling of familiarity quickly evaporated. 
But I have climbed to the mountaintop and I saw the glimmer of paradise and I have a dream... (cue cheesy violins...)

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