2019, you were an unexpected one. You were beautiful, joyful, heart-wrenching, terrifying, and filled with grace. You were everything I imagined, and many things not. Now that you are gently fading, it’s time to say goodbye — and merci!
Some months ago, perhaps even at the beginning of the year, when it was bitter and grey, my dad texted me a photo of a letter I had written to myself the first year of uni. YIKES. Only skimming to avoid the embarrassment of what I may have written to my now-self, a line caught my eye. I hope you’re packing your bags for the country that you love. Preceded by hope that if not, I’d get there someday.
Truthfully, I wasn’t planning to live in France this year. I was fully expecting to graduate and get to work. In something. Although I have a degree in journalism, I’m still working out what I want to do with that. France was always in the back of my mind, though. And a crazy part of me said, do it! You might never ever again get to pick up for a year and a half and just live in another country. Feeling uninspired in my job search, I decided…why not?
Somewhere along the way, I ended up selecting two words to define 2019: joyful and fearless. I was expecting that joyful might be the easier one as I’m prone to a rather cheerful disposition — but what completely surprised me was the fearlessness of the year…and of myself.
If you asked me to name a few words about myself, I’m not sure adventurous nor fearless would be in the vocabulary. I’m more inclined, in normal circumstances, to be a very thoroughly-planned person. A five-year plan person. I love stability and a little routine to give life the skeleton of organisation. But, this year I flew by my pant seat and forgot the belt.
2019 was not easy. Contrary to the thought that one who lives in Paris is always on vacation, Paris was not at all a vacation in many ways. I moved three times. I cried a good bit. I was incredibly sick. I have doubted, devalued, and belittled myself. And I definitely considered packing up and going “home,” giving up on Paris.
2019 was also joyful. I experienced the hope and warmth of spring. I launched this website (!!!) and met many beautiful women. I learned what it means to be an artist. I finally claimed the title for myself. I made community; I sought beauty; I explored this little country I love dearly for inexplicable reasons. I learned more about who I am and perhaps…who I want to be.
I woke up at the crack of dawn to see an empty orchard of cherry blossoms. I took too many midnight summer strolls. I shot a lot of film. There were sunset picnics by the Seine; violin concerts in the privacy of a perfectly Parisian courtyard; goodbyes; hellos; how-are-yous. Art galleries; solitary strolls and unexpected news; searching for home.
Searching for home was a big theme this year — a physical space but also a search for home in identity. Who am I? What do I want? Where do I belong? All while tepidly clinging to the knowledge that we’re only in transit here.
2020’s (WOW it feels weird to type that) words are bold and beauty. To be bold in life, in what I want. To search for beauty. To find boldness in beauty and beauty in boldness. All this while learning to hold dreams loosely. To have a plan but be flexible on the path. To be accepting of pivots. Maybe what I want today won’t be what I want or feasible in a few months. Having a clear vision…but leaving room for joy. Thanks (and merci!) for being on the adventure with me!
Francophile; lover of ice cream, ballet flats, and skirts with pockets. Photographing light, life, and JOY in Paris with Cecil, my Rolleicord.