I have come to believe that I was meant to be European. Here's why:
I'm loving every part life here in Paris. I've embraced each aspect of the mundane, local life and I'm thriving on it.
I go to bed late and wake up late.
I greet people with a kiss on each cheek.
I take my time in the mornings.
I may hide away at a cafe for a bit before I head to class.
I may take the metro to find a morning adventure.
I may also swing by the corner patisserie and grap a chocolate eclair (or two?).
I love the walking and the metro-taking and the biking.
After class, there's adventure to be had, so I'm all about exploring or sitting or walking. Rarely do I just go straight home.
I linger at the restaurants, not just coming and going just for the food; I may stay a while longer.
I drink wine at night, along with everyone else who's sitting along the river.
When I'm bored, I sketch. I paint. I draw fashion figurines.
I buy enough groceries that can only fit in a little basket because push-carts and buying-in-bulk doesn't exist here.
I walk and stroll. I never rush.
I take french baking classes on Saturdays.
I take breaks. The non-smoking kind.
I drink sparkiling water without ice.
Also, I read (see below for more details).
I consider this a massive success and attribute much of it to the relaxed Parisian life I've been living: I've finished two whole books while I've been here. The first one, The Girl on the Train, I only bought because it was the #1 bestseller so I wanted to check it out. I could say it was a page turner, but I most definitely wasn't happy with the ending. The second, Paper Towns, because I enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars and I have a rule about reading books before I see the movies. It was mostly okay, but left me a little in question (young-adult love is so complicated). The third one, Pride and Prejudice, because it's normally not my style, but I think that's the point.
I'm also flipping through the book How to Be Parisian. I believe what is said here captures the essence of what I'm embracing here in France.
"You are anonymous in your own city; no one knows your age, who you are, or what you do for a living. In this moment you can regain control of your life. Feel the beating of your own heart, take a deep breath, and listen to yourself. Do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Savor these stolen moments."
and goes on to say...
"Take the time to listen and to get to know yourself. Take the time to change, to grow, to rest. Take the time to say yes, take the time to say no. Take the time to be quiet. Take the time to look after your body, to eat well. Take the time to ask yourself who you are and what you want...Take the time because no one else will do it for you."
This has been a month of seeing the freedom in my independence. You see, solitude can be a luxury. I choose the steps and actions of my days, what I do, what I don't do. I walk to a cafe and sit, leaving only when I'm ready, not feeling the rush of other pressures around me. I love this quote from the book: "On a whim you can decide what to do and how to do it: there is something a bit dangerous and delicious about freedom."
I believe this trip has been so fulfulling because I've taken time to be myself. This trip has illuminated different parts of my identity that I forgot about; things that I didn't know I enjoyed so much. I've been given space again.
Now, I don't know what life will look like when I get back to Cleveland, land that I truly do love. Although I did look up what it would take to commute from my house to work each day because I love taking public transportation here. The result? Only 1 hour and 46 minutes, normally a 20 minute drive. Seriously, Cleveland?
I do know however, that I can always choose to be this European Alex wherever I am: to never neglect taking time and space and to always be dangerously and delisiously free. Also as a side note, I would gladly greet people with kisses on the cheek whenever they like (Kevin Love, where you at?)!