It reminds me a bit of Lois Lowery’s The Giver, where the old are sent after they’ve led fulfilling lives. My Elsewhere is not so much the final destination, but where I’d rather be.
My little post-Paris conundrum is that I’ve been too busy thinking of elsewhere to notice where I am right now.
As many of you know, I am on a quest for home. The meaning of it, the feeling of it, the place for it. I thought, for a moment, that Paris was it. And, it was, in many ways. Paris showed me the power of art and life intertwined and that anyone can be an artist — all that is required is that you practice. The architecture, the design, the thoughtfulness made every stroll to the grocery store and every mundane errand an adventure, a feast for the eyes. And in some ways, I guess Hemmingway was right about that. Paris is a moveable feast, because she stays with you wherever you go.
Paris was also not home in many ways that I will not dive into, but setting now into suburban American life (although, I came to the realisation that perhaps many places are not suburbs, but sprawling metropolises of their own, just without public transit), I find myself fondly remembering Elsewhere, and in this case Paris.
I used to think I was good with “big” adjustments. Although never labelling myself the “adventurous” type, my decisions always seemed to involve me flying by the seat of my pants. Except replace the pants with a skirt and I forgot the belt. That was Paris. And also, maybe university. Big moves and far away places have never intimidated me, and even if they did, my desire to see them outweighed any fear to hold me back.
However, now that I find myself searching for footing on what was once familiar ground, I am thinking, too often, of Elsewhere. The problem with Elsewhere is that it is always remembered more affectionately than it deserves. It consumes me until I would rather be there than here.
Outwardly, coming back to America has been “easy.” I’ve learned to steel myself and get in the car, and four months later I find that my iron grip on the steering wheel has relaxed into nonchalance, even at 85mph as cars still pass me. I’ve found somewhat of a routine again, although, of course, it is less charming and never will be as lovely as Paris.
In other ways, it has been difficult — finding community and finding my place. And that’s when my thoughts begin to wander to walks on the Seine, cycling through the vineyards of Champagne, spontaneous wanderings through Saint Germain at midnight, and the marvels of art as life and life as art.
I am on a mission to not only choose joy, but to choose gratitude. There is a multitude of things I can be thankful for. I’ve just been wrapped up in the fact that though I have everything I need, it’s not quite in the way I was wanting or envisioning. This is the portal that whisks me to Elsewhere. While daydreams are fun, this one is particularly treacherous, because it threatens, always, a tinge of unhappiness.
I am choosing gratitude, right now, for chilly fall mornings, all the cups of hot chocolate I have not yet consumed, long walks in the City, friends (new and old), art, and that the beauty in the everyday, though different, does not elude me.
May you choose joy — and gratitude — today and everyday.
I am a San Francisco Bay Area film photographer specialising in senior girls, families, love stories, and (personal) brands. Want to work together? Get in touch! I’d love to know your story.
Francophile; lover of ice cream, ballet flats, and skirts with pockets. Photographing light, life, and JOY in San Francisco and Paris with my film cameras, Norman and Cecil.