It’s been so long since I last wrote a personal blog post that it seems a bit insincere to return to this journal format, but this is an important anniversary, or it was, two months and ten days ago, which is when I reached the one year mark since arriving in Paris, and started to consider the awful truth that soon I will be leaving.
In just a few short weeks I will be busy with whatever comes next, so if there’s an appropriate time for reflections, I guess it must be now.
My expectations of this experience were monstrous in scope, and orbited a single, dangerous idea: that I needed to come away from this someone new, quite distinct from my former self. It was, I admit, not only a depressing aim, but an odd one, since Paris is not, in my opinion, a city of any change.
After centuries of relentless artistic analysis, Paris is as Paris was, and as Paris will be. To step onto the metro is to breathe stale air that has washed over a thousand other people, and to be any kind of artist here is not to founder in uncharted waters, but to drink the rich history of the many who went before.
I have not changed. At least not in the ultimate, irrevocable fashion my immature self hoped. Instead of a sudden metamorphosis, I think I instead underwent something closer to a personal evolution. All there is of me is all there was of me, but I wield myself with a better knowledge of my own nature, gained from my experiences.
It is tempting, of course, to bleat out every story I have lived, to pen down every struggle and success so that I can show how much it was all worth, but I understand better now that all stories have a time when it is best for them to be told, and that not all stories survive being written.
Life has chapters, and my time in Paris has been a chapter in mine. In a month and a half I shall turn to a new blank page, only it will not be quite blank, because it will be thin enough to show the shadows of old letters on the page behind. There are no fresh starts, but I no longer think I need one. As I discovered when I came to Paris, whatever you leave behind does not leave you, but follows on the wind.
So when I go, as I must, this will not be so much the past, as a part of the present in which I am.
I promise I am winding up to a point, which is that I have come to the conclusion that rebirth is a lie. Going somewhere new will not make you new. It will, however, give you the space to lay down some roots that reach further than before.
Words are a petty medium, says the woman who left her country to write, but I don’t think I need to write every detail. I need only to say that for so many, many reasons, this has been the best year of my life.