February 2013


Re-appearing Act

Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I really didn't mean to take a pause from blogging - but the past few weeks (months??) have been absolutely non-stop and taking time to sit in front of the screen to type it all out seemed absolutely overwhelming and perhaps even impossible.  I don't intend to sit and list every single thing that happened to me over the past while, but there are a few highlights that deserve mention.  After this post, I promise we'll be back to regularly scheduled programming.

Luckily enough for me, I spent Christmas in Ireland surrounded by aunts, uncles, grandmothers and cousins.  The few days I spent in Ireland were absolutely wonderful, particularly as I got to spend some good quality time with my Nana Peg.  I'll deliver the not-so-wonderful news early on, so as not to end on a sad note - one of the reasons that made this Christmas so special and unforgettable to me is that my Nana died a few days afterwards, when I'd gone home.  I cannot put into words, and I don't really intend to try, how lucky and fortunate and blessed I feel to have been there with her over those few days.  We ate and drank, we wore matching pajamas, and we laughed and laughed and laughed.  I won't ever forget those few precious days and I'll thank my lucky stars for many years to come that I was fortunate enough to have them.

What a superstar.
In case you thought I was joking about the matching pajamas.
Before any of that, though, I returned to Paris after a fab few days in Ireland and hosted my sisters Sinéad and Megan, and Sinéad's boyfriend Kevin.  They stayed for about ten days, and were here for New Years Eve.  It was fantastic to see my sisters, especially my little sister Megan since her arrival in Paris was a Christmas surprise for all three of us girls.  I' not sure how Megan and I survived in my tiny place, side-stepping around one another while trying to get dressed to go out, but I was so glad to have her, especially since it was unexpected!  I was also particularly glad that Kevin was with my sisters, as it was his first trip to Paris and I never get tired of the awestruck expressions and visible joy that people always fail to hide while walking around the city for the first time (sorry Kev!).  We did a bit of the sightseeing circuit, but we also just enjoyed being together and revisiting some of our favorite spots.  My sisters and I are fortunate enough to have all been in Paris before, so we all were happy to go back to some of the places we'd been before and loved - as well as finding some new spots.

Shin and Kev

The four of us had a really great time running around Paris, though it was at the end of the stay that we got the unfortunate news about our Nana. The very silver lining, however, was that my sisters and I were able to fly over to Ireland quickly and without too much hassle, where we met my parents.  It was the first time the whole family had been together since the end of August, and I was thrilled to be in the same country, let alone the same room, as my sisters and parents at the same time.  The few days we spent in Ireland were, of course, tearful and sad, but they were also joyful and full of sharing funny stories to celebrate incredible life that my Nana lived.  I know several of you reading had met the lady at one point or another and I'm sure everyone agrees that she was quite the character - a truly unforgettable woman whose memory I will always always cherish.  Spending time with family, both my close family and some people that I'd never met, was another unexpected gift this Christmas.

After two trips to Ireland and with visitors in between, I was more than ready to get back into my routine by the middle of January.  Three weeks' worth of holidays was really more than enough, not to mention the uncomfortable wallet-shrinking-waistline-growing phenomenon that such an amount of free time and travel will do...

At the end of January, I celebrated my 23rd birthday with one of my very best friends, Jackie, whose birthday is just two days before mine.  From the time we met two years ago on our study abroad trip, we always jokingly talked about how we couldn't WAIT to celebrate our birthdays together (though we had no idea when or how it might happen as she was in Boston and I was in Philly).  What good fortune that two years later we'd be here in Paris, and have a friend generous enough to throw us a joint birthday party!  We celebrated accordingly and in our best party-hat style last weekend, although my instruction to "Wear your party pants!" did cause some confusion among French friends.  It was a little strange to celebrate my birthday so far away from home, as even when I was at school I wasn't far from my parents' house, but I felt so happy and fortunate to have such good friends here that I enjoyed myself as much as I would've at home.

23rd birthday party
My wallet shrunk again this past weekend when seven of us piled into cars and headed north to Deauville, France's beach resort and casino town.  It felt so nice to get out of city air, to be at the beach and to see WIDE OPEN SPACE for once.  I love Paris more than I love almost anything, but sometimes you just need to feel like the world exists beyond buildings and cars and dog stuff on the sidewalks.  We went to the casino, we cooked meals together, we walked along the beach, and once again I felt my sides splitting with laughter on several occasions.  No one can replace friends from home or family, but being with people that are so eager to enjoy life really does help to fill the hole a little bit.  And, when it comes down to it, I'd rather spend money on experiences like this past weekend - traveling new places with new friends and enjoying ourselves fully - than have a few extra Euros lying around.  Who really needs to eat, anyway?!  The trip to Deauville was one of my favorite weekends since arriving five months ago.  I never thought I'd feel so comfortable among a group of friends as quickly as I do here now, and it didn't hurt to have such a beautiful backdrop to our weekend away.  France really is a beautiful country, and I really look forward to spending more time in France outside of Paris (now accepting Travel Donations).

I haven't changed.
Beachy view from our Deauville apartment
Bar inside the casino.
Daytrip to Honfleur, beautiful tiny old-timey town on the sea.
I have so many more things to say about so many different parts of life that have changed since I've been here last, but I'm still looking for some words to capture the way I've been feeling lately.  How do I find the right language to explain the feeling of riding a bike home from work after a long day, and crossing the bridge right when the Eiffel Tower sparkles?  How can I really ever capture the warm salty sweet smell that rises from a Nutella crêpe on a freezing afternoon?  Life is so extraordinarily sensory here that I find so often, as a words-person, my own lack of words to be frustrating.  I'll keep looking, though, because I do want to find the proper way to capture so much of what I see - for you, but also for me. If I've learned anything so far in 2013, it's that life is short and unpredictable and my only resolution is to continue to enjoy all that I've been given.

Sunset from our balcony in Deauville.