Leaving is not hard for me. I’ve done it six times already. You’re a vagabond, you live in your suitcase, you pack up and go. And you’ll always have too many books, more books than you can take with you, books you leave behind but try your hardest to get back.
Leaving people is terrible, however. You want to take them with you but you can’t separate them from the place. As you move and you leave them, they almost stay frozen in time, in that one reality where you met them. 2008 in Madame with the hyphenated last name’s French class. I remember a girl called Georgia with a guitar. I remember people from high school and mix them up with the people I knew from college. I come back and they’re gone. I grow up and move on.
But not always. I draw together the threads of my life and make a multicolored quilt of my different experiences. Each person holds a strand and is woven throughout my existence. Like Hedi. Meeting him and everything changed. I can’t separate my idea of him from his identity in Amiens, but we are certainly going to try.
The big news, if you haven’t already guessed, is manifold. More things have happened in the space of a few weeks than in the past year.
Hedi and I got engaged. That’s to say, we are now finally announcing it to the world for all of you to share in our joy. There are so many implications to that simple declaration, that simple promise, that of course my whole world is changing. My work offered me these beautiful flowers to marquer le coup.
For many reasons, we also decided that it would be best if we begin our careers, make a real start, in the United States. Neither of us are French citizens. Europe is having many economic problems, and France’s individual unemployment rate has risen for 24 straight months, whereas the United States’s has been steadily (but slowly) declining. I’m a U.S. citizen, and Hedi could benefit from learning to speak English fluently. It might not be for a long time, but it will certainly mean that my experience as an expat will be (temporarily) suspended. That’s ok. I’ll write another blog. I’ll learn more languages. We’ll have more adventures. Returning to my home country will be an adventure in itself, because for the first time, I won’t be (primarily) a student. I still want to take part-time MBA classes as I’m interested in economics and the corporate world. But I’ll mostly be working, saving, living, and making a life for myself.
In Connecticut. That’s right. In the space of two weeks, I discovered a wonderful company (see an earlier post about how small the world is), got offered a freelance job, applied for a full-time position, interviewed, and got offered the job. It’ll use my language skills, my multicultural sensitivity, my experience abroad, and my experience teaching English as a second language. And it begins on July 15, so I will be flying back to the United States in a short two and a half weeks. Hardly enough time to say good-bye before leaving.
What will I bring with me? Two suitcases full of clothes that are my only possessions and a carful of books (once I arrive at my mother’s house, where I’ve been hoarding them). Leaving behind a fiancé for seven months, as he plods through English grammar and patiently awaits the K-1 fiancé visa. As I begin a new life in a new town in a new state with a new job, a new (used) car, in a new apartment. To tell you the truth, I’m more terrified than when I hopped on a plane to move to France ten months ago.
Do I regret leaving France? Yes and no. I’m one to seize an opportunity, to say “Let’s go,” and to begin anew. I know this isn’t the end of my French/European/foreign adventure. I’ll be helping others expatriate as a living! It can’t get any better than that! And in the meantime, I’ll keep you updated. I plan to travel to New York, to Boston, to Quebec and Montreal, to Washington D.C., and I’ll finally have the pay check that will allow me to realistically travel on a more frequent basis. I’ll be within an hour’s distance of one of my best friends. And within a few months, I’ll be getting married. There’s a chance that you might even be invited to one of our three possible weddings. So I expect you to stay in touch in the meantime.