4 July 2008
I am officially excited. In seven days Mr. JB and I will be leaving for our European vacation. It was two years in the making and entailed a ton of saving, but we're almost there. In the back of my mind I was hoping that I would be carting a little JellyBelly with us, but just the thought of a lovely Paris evening eating some tasty French dish, almost erases that bit of sadness.
I spent a year and a half "working" (really, my ten hour Parisian work week that involved a lot more partying and shopping really didn't classify as work in the North American sense) at a university just outside of Paris. I had just gotten used to the idea that teaching was what I wanted to do -- I had fought tooth and nail again the notion that I would become a teacher like my grandmother, great-grandfather and numerous great-aunts. My parents had loftier ideas for my future. They would've preferred a Dr. JellyBelly or a lawyer JellyBelly, but instead they got a mostly happy elementary school teacher. And since I'm at the start of a two month vacation, I really couldn't imagine a better profession! Just don't ask me in the middle of cold and flu season with a bunch of snotty six years if I like my job!
Paris is my happy place. Whenever I feel sad and melancholy I imagine myself walking down a tree-lined boulevard in my old neighbourhood with the sun breaking through the leafy branches. There were many days while I was living in France that I would have to pinch myself. I always felt like I was on the cusp of waking up from an amazing dream, but day after day I would awake and it was definitely real.
I came into myself living in my little fourteen square metre apartment in the 14th arrondissement. It was the first time that I was truly on my own, without the safety net of my family and friends. It was also the loneliest times of my life. I had left behind a boyfriend, that I really should've broken up with before leaving, but who hung around because I was leaving for a year and a half. I shook him once, only to have him coming leaching back before I was to return home. But I'm certain that if it wasn't for my sojourn in Paris, I never would've had the courage to finally pack my bags and leave him for good.
I was never meek or mild, but pre-France JellyBelly had a really hard time standing up for herself. I used to have a hard time stomaching the fact that people wouldn't like me, but I also learned fast that if I didn't stand up for myself (and sometimes it required yelling and swearing, in both English and French) no one would do it for me. If I had only one lesson to take away from my months on Paris, it was to be brave. If it wasn't for the France experience, I'm sure that I wouldn't be the JellyBelly that Mr. JB married -- he has a hard time believing that I was ever a pushover and that I had a hard time standing up for myself!
I can't wait to play tour guide and show Mr. JB all of my old haunts -- the trivial things like the little grocer and the Chinese take-away down the street from old place, where I used to buy roasted chicken and my baguettes and most of all the tree-lined boulevard that I've imagined over and over again.
My biggest question is: how do I pack light for this adventure? I have it in my head that I'm taking ONE bag and ONE backpack (which will house the laptop, of course). I've never been a light packer, but every time I travel I always kick myself for taking way too much stuff that I don't wear or use. I've decided on a mostly black and white wardrobe with a couple of hints of colour to shake things up. I also have three pairs of footwear in mind: running shoes, comfy, but stylish black sandals and black flip flops for trips to the beach. Any advice? I don't want to stress out too much, but I promised Mr. JB that I wouldn't make him throw his back out (as he did on our honeymoon to Italy and Greece!) carting around my bags.
Advice? Assvice? Anything is welcome.
Btw, Happy Fourth of July to all of you north of the border!