Jet lag hit me a lot harder than I thought it would, despite taking a non-stop from CDG to SFO. The flight itself went by pretty quickly, arriving at one in the afternoon and giving me two choices (both of them bad): I could go to sleep as soon as I got home, which would probably prompt a bizarre wake-up time of around 2 am for several days. Or, I could try and stay awake until about nine, ignoring every one of my instincts to sleep.
It turns out that I had absolutely no say in the matter, splitting the difference, passing out on the cough at around six, for a lovely wake-up time of 4 am, a pattern that would be repeated for a couple of days.
But I’m back on schedule now, which gives me plenty of daytime hours to try and answer the question, “Why on earth did I leave?” I’m really missing the hexagon and its people, its buildings, its liberal use of butter, but it’s not all bad here. It is taking some readjusting, though.
Everything is very big. Cars, houses, coffees (no longer a good thing, I’ll take an espresso please)…
Everything is very convenient. It’s common practice in France for businesses to close early, to open late, or to not open at all (I think I’ve talked about lazy Sundays enough by now – known also as hungry Sundays if I was feeling particularly inept and forgot to go to the market). But here, I am drowning in freedom! Not particularly important freedoms – early morning shampoo shopping! late night banking! – but freedoms nonetheless, dagummit!
Most regrettably, everything is in English. Or inversely, everything is not in French. In Nantes, I was perfectly isolated and with the exception of a weekly phone call from my parents, I only used French to communicate, and it was really fantastic. I’ve already found that I feel no more impulse to greet with a bonjour, to thank with a merci, or to part with a bonne journée, au revoir, but I’m hoping that’s all I lose. Il faut absolument que je trouve quelqu’un qui sait parler français, mais quel boulot, ici il n’y a personne qui le sait!
In addition, to make sure that my transition back to American life is particularly painful, I’ve agreed to take on a forty-hour work week, when I’d much rather be playing all day, though grateful I am for the opportunity to earn some money, for really…the first time in my life.
So for now, I’m trying to bike to work on time, spend time with friends as much as possible, and cut down on the number or times I start my sentences with “When I was in France…” It’s no year abroad in Nantes, but it’s nice, too.
Just not quite as nice as Paris on a June day.