Tuesday, January 1, 2013

we'll always have paris...


Crossing the English Channel yet again was bittersweet. Mainly because it meant that I would be leaving France in just a few short days. Once the ferry landed again in Dieppe, we drove back to Evreux to meet parents and say goodbyes. It was bittersweet after getting to know these kids and spending nearly a week with them. But I had been traveling for weeks and would only continue traveling (with ridiculously heavy luggage), so I knew I needed to rest.

My last night in Evreux was spent at my friend Anthony's house, across the street from the Cathedral. We enjoyed a light meal and some reminiscing of my year in France, then it was time to hit the hay, tired from a week of leading the retreat and wrangling middle schoolers.

In the morning, very reluctantly, I packed up the rest of my things and gathered all of my luggage for the train. Anthony dropped me and my 500 lb companions off at the train station, only after some tearful goodbyes.

Once in Paris, for one last night, I dropped my bags at the hotel where I was staying with an American friend from Evreux and then took off to take full advantage of my precious time in this city. I visited some of my favorite spots and used this last chance to see some new things as well. I enjoyed the riverwalk along the Seine, walked through Rodin's gardens one last time, and even visited Napoleon.


I desire for my ashes to rest on the shore of the Seine
Amidst this French people that I have loved so much

The evening wound down with some prayer at Sacré Coeur, dinner at my favorite little bistro in all of Paris (on Montmartre, down the street from Sacré Coeur) with a friend who was by my side for nearly the entire year in France (and experienced all of the ups & downs alongside me). It was a wonderful last dinner in France as we reminisced and dreamed.

Because of an early trek to the airport the next morning, we headed to our hotel for a good night's rest. The day of my departure arrived all too quickly, but with my bags packed and loaded into a taxi to Charles de Gaulle, I had no choice but to stick with my plans. With just a twinge of regret and denial, I hauled all of my possessions from one side of the world to the other, finally returning to America, to my first (but not only) home.


It is nearly impossible to believe that this was all of nearly seven months ago. Since initially leaving France, I have been back as a camp counselor, have landed a job that I really love, have made new friends, have gotten back in touch with old ones. My life, though no longer lived in the most romantic country in the world, is nonetheless full of joy.

There is not a day that goes by where I don't think of France. Even when I miss it like crazy, those memories are some of the greatest, and my year living there has proven, thus far, to be one of the most important things I have ever done. I know that it will not be long before I can return to the country that has become my second home. Until then, I'll always have Paris...

pax christi.