Paris, Je T’aime

Je suis consciente que des attentats ont eu lieu dans d’autres pays (Liban, Iraq) avec de très nombreux morts et qu’il y a des victimes tous les jours en Syrie et ailleurs dans le monde. Le but du texte ci-dessous n’est pas de donner plus d’importance aux victimes de Paris, parce qu’aucun pays, aucune famille ne mérite de subir de telles atrocités. 

Ce texte est simplement un hommage à une ville que j’aime profondément. Je suis 100% libanaise d’origine et Paris sera mon foyer éternel. Mon cœur est doublement brisé et ma peine est débordante.

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Je pleure pour ma ville bien-aimée, mon cœur brisé déborde de tristesse. Paris – ville adoptée, adorée et chérie – tu souffres et je souffre loin de toi. Même si un océan nous sépare, mon cœur est avec toi et mes pensées traversent les distances et les vagues pour se poser à ton seuil.

Enfant du monde, mon âme est un mélange de cultures et mon cœur repose souvent dans plusieurs endroits, mais il ne quittera jamais Paris. Cette ville lumineuse a su bien s’emparer de mon cœur et c’est un amour éternel.

Il y a tellement de choses que je voudrais dire, mais je me retrouve sans mots face à ce tourbillon d’émotions qui remplit mon cœur et mes pensées.

Peut être suffit-il de dire ce qu’il y a de plus simple, de plus vrai et qui vient du plus profond de mon cœur:

Paris, je t’aime.

Tour Eiffel.JPG
Photo courtesy of Raya F.
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Summers of Change 2015

pic163-detailAn earlier version of this piece was first published on my blog in June 2013. The version below was published in the September 2015 issue of Among Worlds.


Many things come to mind when thinking of summer: sunshine, ice-cream, vacation, lounging on the beach, late nights, cool drinks, lazy days and evenings with family and friends… But for me, and many other Third Culture Kids (TCKs), summer was also synonymous with change. In the American and/ or international schools we attended, when June came along and the school year ended, there was always someone moving away. Sometimes we had to say goodbye to friends who were leaving and other times we were the ones packing up. Either way it meant change, adapting to yet another new situation and having to figure it out all over again.

When we were moving there were obviously greater challenges and those summers were truly a period of transition. During those summers, we rarely went directly to the new country. Once school would finish in June, we would pack up the house, ship everything off with the moving company and we would head off to spend at least part of the summer with family. That way we could enjoy our vacation as much as possible before having to confront the inevitable challenges awaiting us.

It was a great idea to allow us this transition period, this pause, in between countries. It softened the blow of leaving our home and gave us strength to deal with arriving in a foreign place. Spending the summers with cousins and grandparents – being surrounded by loved ones and familiarity – eased the pain of loss and of sorrowful goodbyes. It reminded us that some things remain constant and steady, even when everything around us seemed to be a whirlwind of change. It also reinforced our belief that time and distance do not alter true friendship and love.

Summers are meant to be a time of joy, fun, laughter and carefree days. For TCKs moving to a new country the summer was much less carefree and relaxed. While others were still enjoying their last lazy days of lounging in the sun or chatting with friends, we were unpacking boxes in an unfamiliar house, trying to find our way in foreign roads and dreading the first day at a new school. It wasn’t always easy, but it was all part of the experience.

And despite all the tough moments, I would do it again, without a doubt. Those summers of change provided valuable lessons that will last me a lifetime and they taught me how resilient I really am. A restful summer is always welcome, but show me the next opportunity for change and my TCK itchy feet are ready for the next adventure!

I hope you all had a great summer, wherever you may be; and good luck to any of you who went through a summer of a change.

I’m From…

I’m from the warm Mediterranean Sea,

And the smell of fresh pines in the mountain.

 

I’m from lavender fields and vineyards,

And the ochre colored house.

 

I’m from bahebak, je t’aime,

I love you, te quiero and ti amo.

 

I’m from islands and continents,

From north to south and east to west.

 

I’m from all these places that hold my heart,

And from a home that’s rooted in love.

 


This post is inspired by a beautiful poem written by 10th grader and TCK Adelaide, shared by Marilyn at Communicating Across Boundaries. “The Language Arts teacher wanted them to write a poem introducing themselves to her and to the class. It was a simple assignment. Five short stanzas. Two lines each. Begin each stanza with, “I’m from…” (Click to see the entire post and read Adelaide’s touching poem about growing up between worlds)

If you liked Adelaide’s poem and my poem, here’s another one for you, courtesy of Tayo Rockson, who was also inspired by Marilyn’s post!

Feeling inspired? Please feel free to share your own I’m From poem in the comments, or if you write one on your own blog, I would love to link to it here!

Summer Loving

I’m happy that autumn is approaching, as I’m ready for the cooler temperatures, the brightly colored leaves, snuggling under blankets and drinking hot chocolate… But I loved the summer and all it entailed this year – road trips, air trips, beaches, champagne, exploring new places and fondly re-discovering childhood ones, burgers and shandy, lots of family, lots of laughter and lots of love…

… And also a wedding celebrated among wildflowers and butterflies. Although the scenery was beautiful, it was the love and celebration that really made this special. Since it was a cousin getting married, it meant lots of family, which is the best way to go. Lots of family means LOTS of fun, laughter, great conversations and most importantly love. It always feels so good to be surrounded by family and I feel so lucky to have them all, no matter where we are in the world.

 

… Beautiful views of Vermont on our drive back from Montreal, after visiting some cousins and my grandma. It was a wonderful, memory-filled weekend, visiting places I hadn’t seen in 12 years and that were a huge part of my childhood. We reminisced about all the mischief we managed growing up, and I got to show my husband some places that are very special to me. It reminded me yet again how lucky I am to have this amazing and close-knit family, despite the distances that separate us…

… And then there was the extra-special trip of the year: our honeymoon in St. Croix. We had much to celebrate – 10 years of being together, 2 years of marriage, and the honeymoon itself – and we made sure to enjoy every minute! From the warm Caribbean Sea, to sunset shows; from a day out on the catamaran to snorkel in the most pristine water, seeing rays, turtles and barracudas (not to mention all the other amazing sealife!), to dancing on the terrace after dinner… It was simply amazing and we made memories to last us a lifetime…

Until next year summer…

Arrivals

A few weeks ago my parents and my brother came to spend a week with us. That was one of the reasons for my lengthy absence from my blog, but that’s not the point of today’s post. What I would like to do today is share thoughts and feelings about my favorite place in airports: the arrival zones. In certain previous posts I’ve mentioned how I love flying, but have come to really dislike a lot of aspects of travelling because of increased security measures and lack of comfort on airplanes. What I didn’t mention, however, was that the one thing that has not changed in the travelling experience is the arrival areas and my love for them.

If I were to go through my experiences at arrivals, I would have to admit that not all of them were happy and easy. When we had just moved and we’re arriving in a totally foreign place, with no-one familiar to greet us and only unknowns on the horizon, it’s a terrifying and sad place to be. But those aren’t the memories that stick and come to mind when I think of the airport arrival zones. The first memories that come to mind are the times we flew to Montreal when we were kids – we never knew exactly who would be meeting us, but we knew we’d be greeted by several familiar and loving faces! Then I had so many memories of picking up loved ones: our cousins who came to visit us no matter where we lived, our grandparents and later my grandma who always came to see us all around the world. Waiting for them outside the arrivals doors was always a moment of joy and excitement. Running up to greet them with hugs and kisses, knowing more great memories will be made in the days to come was wonderful. When we were kids, we loved picking our dad up when he was coming home from business trips – the joy of seeing him walk through those doors after being gone for several days was immense. Once I was older, the arrival zones brought a different joy and a different side of things: they brought me and the man I love together many times through years of long distance. Even more recently, the arrivals area reserved new emotions and experiences – us picking up my family from the airport when they come to visit us. Waiting behind the railing for them and the excitement of seeing them walk out the doors was simply wonderful.

How could the arrivals zone not be a favorite? It’s the first place you get to hug and kiss the people you love after a period of separation.

I love watching people at the arrival zones – families, friends, lovers reunited. It’s a place filled with true, honest love that’s infinitely beautiful to behold. The smiles, the hugs, the kisses, the laughter that fills the air are heart-warming and are some of the loveliest sights I’ve ever seen. For any of you who have seen “Love Actually”, I absolutely adore the scenes at the arrivals zone and I wholeheartedly agree with the line “love actually is all around”.

If you need proof of that, go sit outside the arrivals area.

365 Days, Innumerable Lessons

The leaves crunch under my feet and fall from the branches above me. Soon there will be no more leaves on those majestic trees and their naked branches will reach up to the sky until they are weighed down by the sparkling white beauty of snow.

Another year nearing its end, having flown by yet again. It seems time is always doing that. More than 12 months ago we moved here. Nearly 4 months ago we got married (has it really been that long already??). Less than 2 months left before 2012 greets us. Or do we greet 2012?

The year began with much apprehension for what was awaiting on the horizon – still settling in a new place, a wedding to plan across an ocean, no foreseeable moment (for me) when I felt I would be driving comfortably…get the idea? Thankfully the year is coming to a close with tranquillity and serenity. I’m pretty much settled in, the wedding was perfect and I’m happily driving (mostly) comfortably.

This year has been filled with learning experiences:

Learning about marriage and sharing my husband with his full-time job, without feeling too lonely. Thankfully he doesn’t work so late and I have the joy of usually driving him to and from work, lengthening our time together every morning and every evening.

Learning to drive. More importantly: learning to drive without fear.

Learning how to manage our bills, credit cards and credit scores. The whole credit rating and credit system was (and I think will always be) so foreign and so incomprehensible to me. I understand how it works, I just don’t particularly understand why.

I’ve been learning how different life is here as an adult, compared to France. Simple things like getting a cell phone account is made ridiculously complex and bizarre because of the credit system. Oh, and why in the world do we pay or use our minutes when someone calls us? Landlines don’t work like that, and most countries in the world don’t either. One of the many mysteries, for me, of U.S. cell phone accounts.

The medical system, the tools available, the costs, the insurance, even the pharmacies and prescription methods baffle me endlessly.

Although I must admit, the 7 days a week, 24h, or open late pharmacies, supermarkets and stores do make things so much easier. Or maybe they just make us lazier? Hm. I always seem to find myself at odds with myself over that point. But I think ultimately I would probably say that it is a wonderful convenience to have the supermarkets and pharmacies open late and on Sunday. That has often proven to be of enormous help and brought great relief for last minute necessities.

The truth is, like I’ve often said in other entries, there are good and bad things of every country. This past year has allowed me to start learning what those good and not-so-good attributes are here.

What I’ve learned most of all this past year is that I’m happy here. I do miss my family, certain places and things from France, but I’ll see them again, I’ll have those things once again. There’s no point thinking constantly of what we had, what we might have, what we could have, or where we could be. So I think of what I do have, I think of the people who love me, near and far, I think of where I am now, and I embrace all of that.

I am infinitely lucky and I am happy.

Shadows of Love

Isn't life nicer when it's spent hand in hand with someone you love?
Some time alone can be alright...
...But everything is always better when it's shared.
My shadow and I can get a little lonely without some company...
...We're always happier when we're joined by our best friend and his shadow.
And we're oh so lucky that our best friend is also our true love.

A Sense of Belonging

I’ve come to realize something in my years as a TCK: there is no period of adaptation. It’s just a continuous cycle; you’re never actually finished adapting. Just when you think you might be, something else happens to make you realize that you’re a foreigner in this land. But what happens if you feel like a foreigner wherever you go? Being fully detached from a TCK environment has been an interesting process. I didn’t realize how big of a difference it made. Even in the times I wasn’t regularly in a TCK environment (when I was studying at the French or English universities), I was still immersed into it often enough. Then I went fully back into that environment, as a substitute teacher and tutor at my old high school in Paris. But out here, it’s a whole different ballgame, and sometimes it’s tougher to figure it all out.

Sometimes it’s just silly little things that bother me more than they should. Things that are actually more than ok, but not of my standard. It’s frustration at myself, frustration at feeling so foreign and different, and showing it. Feeling like the whole world can see just how strange and out of place you are, just how much you don’t fit in. They probably can’t, they might not have any idea at all, but that’s how it feels sometimes. As a TCK, something I pride myself on is being able to adapt, being flexible, but I don’t always feel like I succeed. And those days are never easy.

Then I realized something else. It’s the people you’re with and the little things which make you feel like you belong. It’s finding pleasure in simple moments, enjoying the warm sun on your face, looking out the window at the blue sky and thinking ‘what a beautiful day, and I’m lucky to be here’. At least for me, that’s what helps me feel like I belong. Two days ago when I started writing this entry, it was much more melancholy. Then the sun came back out – literally and figuratively – and I realized that no matter how long it takes me to adapt, I am happy here. I’m happy to have a home with my husband, a place to really call our own. After all the years we spent apart, only seeing each other every few weeks or months, falling asleep by his side every night and waking up to him every morning is a source of profound joy for me. I love those morning drives to drop him off at work, because it’s just a few more minutes with him before he’s gone for the day. Starting my day by his side is the best way to start it; he makes me feel like I belong.