I met a friend last Thursday evening for a drink after work, at a table in a café on the Place Pereire, and we squeezed in so much in just under an hour and a half... I could have stayed chatting much longer, as I wasn't in a hurry that night, but she had to get home to meet her husband. I'm always in awe of how much we have to catch up on when we get together, but then again, I think the last time we met for drinks was in March -- believe it or not! The time just flies, and I'm constantly reminded of when my parents used to say things like that when I was a kid -- how much faster time seems to go by as an adult. This fact has become more and more vivid for me in the past year or so. In a sense, I don't feel my age at all -- I'm dumbfounded by the fact that I am, in fact, in my early 30s -- I feel much younger in my head and in my heart. And then at other times, for example after a long day, when all I want to do is return home and rest, do simple, homebody-type things, I can't help thinking that I'm acting much older than I should, or that my interests and hobbies revolve around older types of things -- like cooking and hanging out at home! A bit ridiculous, I know, but I've realized more and more that I'm just not cut out for the partying scene -- I guess I never have been, but for years I would try to blend in and make myself enjoy things that just weren't my cup of tea. Now I'm realizing that of course there's no shame in that, and I might as well revel in the things I love, no matter what the rest of the world may think.
But the last two weeks or so my calendar has been packed with more "social occasions" than usual, and trust me, I'm not complaining -- I love catching up with friends, having something to look forward to during my long days at work. It's what keeps me going -- isn't that the case for a lot of us? I guess not everyone, because some of you lucky dogs out there actually have jobs and professions that you enjoy, but I just haven't found that niche yet, unfortunately. At least I can say that I'm in a country I love, in spite of all its flaws and frustrations, and that I have a lot of wonderful people in my life who make the long days worth getting past. That's something, isn't it? That and knowing that there is some potential out there for future endeavors, future possibilities -- I just have to keep my mind, my eyes and all the doors open.
But when the social outings pile up, and I have a heck of a time figuring out how to squeeze it all in, that's when I feel like my head is going to explode. And I don't even have kids! I know how hard it must be for folks like Jenn to find a balance for herself and her family. And here I am having a hard time just fitting in enough time for my boy and me. This week is jam-packed with fun, but I also have to be sure to fit in some time doing those necessary things around the apartment, like cooking, cleaning and laundry. Obviously life -- and living! -- are much more important, but then again you certainly want to feel good about the home you're returning to at the end of the day. Such a juggle!
When my friend Sarah and I got together last week, we found ourselves reminiscing about the time we met back in the States, in the late '90s, when I was working for a French company as a marketing assistant. She was an au pair hoping to improve her English and we were both spending time at the Alliance Française in Washington, DC (I didn't want to lose my French, so I was serving wine and cheese, and she wanted to meet fellow French-speakers living in the area). One day one of the guys I was working with at the time saw a photo of us together, and he said, eyes blazing, "I have got to meet her!" I was stunned by his adamance, but I eventually complied, knowing full well that he wouldn't leave me alone until I did... Their first meeting didn't lead to many sparks -- at least I didn't think so! -- but about a week later I received a call in my car, and Sarah told me that they were officially a couple. They had really hit it off, both loving to swing dance and sharing so many of the same interests. It was unexpected, but I was of course thrilled for them.
Fast-forward eight years later, and they are now married and living in la région parisienne. We lost touch there for a while -- life and all that -- but then caught up again about a year and a half ago, and since then Sarah and I have tried to get together to have drinks from time to time. Again, we always have a million things to talk about, and this time around was no exception. In fact, I felt like we were really on the same wavelength in so many ways, and a lot of what she said to me really reassured me about my current fears and concerns, regarding life and the future in general. It's funny how we so often see so many wonderful things in other people, how much we admire and appreciate their qualities, and then in fact they tell us that they see those same things in us. Of course it's a good feeling, but it's also kind of unsettling...
Well, before I head off in some kind of random philosophical direction, let's just say that I'm hoping we can make our evening drink sessions more regular, and not so few and far between. I love the conversations we have, the memories we share, and the thoughts and feelings that get stirred up in these simple moments of friendship.
It's funny, because I've always thought that my memories, of either my childhood or even of more recent years, were never very vivid, but when I actually think long and hard about things, specific images and precise moments really do come to mind. One of them is a party that I attended with Sarah on a July 4th weekend years ago, by the Chesapeake Bay, when a wonderful Australian friend of mine was in town for a few days. We studied together in a program at the Sorbonne for a semester, and he was one of the brightest spots in those months of study. He recently e-mailed me on "our" birthday (we share exactly the same birthdate, both day and year!) to share some pics of his son. There was the whisper of possibility, of something more happening between us several times over the years, but it wasn't meant to be... When he came to visit me in the U.S., he was living in London at the time and I was in the early stages of a relationship. Today he is married with a baby boy, and here I am back in France. I remember the dress I wore that sweltering July night, the strap that snapped when we were dancing, the fact that we had stayed in touch in spite of the distance between us. I really hope I can continue to do the same as time continues to fly by, remembering each other when we can, and catching up whenever life makes it possible.