warning, long post ahead .. move on if you’re looking for a quick read, this girls got something to say.  

The Baretti’s are on the move, again.

After 2 years and 8 months, we are hanging up our doudoune and heading for the golden, shimmering sands of Dubai.  

Surprisingly, I’m a train wreck.

In a mere few days we say goodbye to the city we started raising our boy in. Where he had his first haircut, crashed rode his first tricycle, scooter and bike.  Had his first tantrum, took his first tumble in the playground, stood up for himself in the sand pit, and started to school. There’ll be no more after school trips to the park or cheeky patisserie pit stops at the local boulangerie for goûter.

It pains me knowing I won’t be able to drive past somewhere that triggers a memory and takes me back to one of those pivotal moments in our boys early childhood. I feel a tremendous sadness, that sinking feeling, a mix of guilt and sorrow in knowing our boy won’t grow up with the little friends he’s made, or even remember who they are/were.

All the guilt.  They say it’s an useless emotion. What they don’t say is how strong that prickly pear is and how incredibly vulnerable it can make you feel.

Expat life is not for everyone. It’s not glamorous, it’s tough, and not for the faint hearted. It takes a certain strength, something you summon up every damn day to overcome what you miss. In even the smallest of ways, you miss something about home on a daily basis. You miss the familiar. Not just family and friends but the way of life you were conditioned to, where and how you were raised.

You compare everything you see and how your “new” life is to what you already know and it’s flippin DANGEROUS to ones psyche.

After 8 years abroad I’ve learned to take the good with the bad, face the cultural challenges head on, get up every day and tell yourself “I’ve got this”. It’s about unconditioning yourself and making the new home wherever you go.

It’s about learning to drown out the guilt, noise of not being at home where you belong” (a common phrase heard by families of expat families) and get on with daily life, dreams, ambitions for you and the family you are creating.

Living in the City of Light has been both the most difficult, yet rewarding challenge yet. Beijing was tough, but Paris is the clear winner in the “tough” stakes. Initially language was the biggest hindrance with integration, however, over the last 6 months I’ve felt more confident in my speech, and slowly came out of my shell. God, in no way am I fluent (hopefully one day!) but I’m not frightened of making a fool of myself anymore and can manage a light conversation on my best days.

I’ll miss the people at work, who made my days so much fun (and bearable!) you know who you are, who supported my craziness and constant ramblings of all things Australian. No one will forget the crows, the “courage” of our Aussie rules or my Aussie BBQ Classics Spotify playlist ! I’ll miss the guy who smiles and calls me “Aussie” everyday cos it’s the only thing he can say in English. I’ll miss people asking me to repeat my “Nom” or where I work because I can’t pronounce the french “R” properly. I’ll miss those who speak to me in English because they want to practice “ze anglais”.

I’ll miss the Seine at night in all its glory, the beauty in the way the lights reflects off the water. Centuries of buildings, standing the test of time, and beating the harsh Parisienne weather extremities.  Standing by the beautiful clocks in my favourite, Musee D’orsay, staring over Paris, admiring the Sacre Coeur, watching the tourists float by on the Bateaux Mouches, mouths agape in awe.  An awe that is never lost, but seems to enhance over time.  Paris, you really are a true beauty, even on the coldest, wettest, windiest of days, you can take a persons breath away.

Then you step on a dog turd, and all the loveliness dissipates in an instant.

I will not miss these dirty folk who somehow think it’s OK to leave their dogs doings in the path of others, specifically my son and his bike.  Have you ever tried getting soft poo out from in between tyre tread? In your bath. Yes, the one you clean yourself in, because no apartment has a laundry! Unless of course your “riches”, living in the 16e in your cosy 1000 sqm “apartment”.  

Selfish, selfish <expletiveright here>.

I will not miss counting or evaluating the cost of something, #fml that’s hard yakka. Still got me at quatre-vinghts deuze. Merde!

I will not miss the constant grey skies or smelly metro with no AC in the scorching summer heat.  God no.  That is hell on earth.

But geeze, I’ll miss the fromage and pain tradition, pas trops cuir stp.  I’ll miss the swiftness of Amazon Prime next day delivery, because Europe.

Onwards we go.  New dreams to make, new places to see, new people to meet, new adventures to be had and a new “home” to create.  Shop & Ship here I come.

I feel like I be left pieces of me in the places I’ve lived and visited, and as cheesy as this sounds, the biggest piece of me is in Australia, the only true place I could ever call home. I’ll be seeing you real soon.

Until next time, au revoir Paris, j’taime très très fort.


Photo credit: Clock Painting – Musee Dorsay Clock Window by Joan Ryan.

Expat life comments are my own views and in no way replicate or dictate other expat opinions.

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