Friday, December 30, 2011

The Enlightenment in Packing

With less than 36 hours until I plop myself into seat 33A with my ice coffee in one hand and Nyquil in the other, I think it's time to start packing. I have put it off long enough but packing is so stressful. If I'm not worried about forgetting something, I'm worried about bringing too much. There's nothing worse than being half-way across country wondering if you remembered to pack a bathing suit for that one weekend you might spend in Spain, except for maybe arriving in your new home in Paris and realizing that the 25 dresses you've hauled almost 6,000 miles are not going to fit in your matchbox closet.

As I open my closet doors and pick up a couple of items from each drawer--a black and white striped maxi skirt, a pair of high-waisted brown wide legged pants, a flannel shirt, a little black dress etc...--I am reminded of the moments I spent wearing them and the memories that are forever sewn into each garment. The hot summer days dancing in the kitchen. The hectic work hours running along Newbury Street. The cool breezy nights smoking on the porch.

In a sea of clothes, I sit in the middle of my room playing dress up like a five-year-old who has a lunch date with her teddy bear. I meticulously plan countless outfits that I may or may not wear--a slightly annoying habit that does not bode well with my indecisiveness. But after hours of imagining what to wear while running in the Parisian rain, strolling down the Champs Elysées in the springtime, or biking along the Seine, I realize that packing has made me intoxicated with the limitless possibilities during my semester in Paris.

Yes, I do not know what the future holds for me in Paris, but I have this newfound desire to plunge into the unknown that I have feared for some time now. Le désire du grand peut-être. I have this overpowering need for something genuinely unpredictable. I have become all too familiar with familiarity.

So as I haphazardly toss my clothes into my suitcase, I now imagine myself putting on my favorite dress, stepping out into the streets of Paris, and stitching along the seams of my clothes new memories, right next to the old ones. While I may not know what is waiting for me in Paris, I know that at least I will be well dressed.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Twelve days before

Time has crept up on me. For months, my semester abroad in Paris has been a distant, comforting reality that I could fall onto when I was having a rough day. “It doesn’t matter, I’m leaving this place. I’ll be in Paris soon enough.” But “soon enough” is now and Paris is a not-so-distant reality.

I have filled out the paperwork, attended the informational sessions, and applied for the visa. I am leaving in twelve days whether or not I want to.

And I always wanted to. I still want to. Don’t get me wrong, spending my twenties in Paris has been my dream for years. For months, I’ve been dreaming of trading in Dunkin Donuts for café au lait, of casting aside my New York Times for Le Monde, of ditching my old dilapidated baggage for new suitcases where emotional holdups don’t fit next to my lavish collection of dresses.

But now that I’ve left Boston, and the life I’ve started there, it is so much harder to see things as they were. I will look back on these past couple of months and catch myself idealizing them. I’m rocking my rose-colored glasses all the way to the airport. In reality, this past semester has taken a toll on me and I know that I need a change in pace, but I can’t help but feel like I’m missing out on something in Boston.

I’ll be back though, and maybe nothing will have changed and maybe everything will have changed. I think that is my biggest fear about going to Paris. The two-plus years I’ve spent in Boston, I’ve built this life and I’m afraid that if I abandon it now, I’ll come back and everything will be different. Because that’s the difficult part about distance, you don’t know whether you’ll be missed or forgotten.

I think I need to stop thinking about the future though, and focus on the now. I have so many expectations about Paris without having any. I don’t know what to expect, but I am anticipating so much. I guess I will find out in twelve days what to expect. For now, I just need to pack lightly.