One day I will leave Paris, and when I do there are places I will miss terribly.
The problem with being an expatriate is that eight times out of ten your fellow expat friends eventually return home. This happened to many of my friends. Angela returned to Glasgow. Alice moved on to Geneva. Sherry moved back to London. Ffion moved back to northern Wales. Maya moved back to London (and then died.) My ex-fiancé moved up to Lille. It’s almost as if Paris was a parenthesis for them, an interlude in which to learn the language, meet interesting people and have wildly exciting adventures before pulling out and settling down to a ‘real’ life back home or in another city.
But what’s a ‘real’ life? Is my life less real because I stayed? And why am I still here? This is indeed food for thought which prompted me to write my memoir, due out in a few months. It was necessary for me to trace the trajectory of my life in order to understand why I’m still living in Paris when it was not at all my intention to do so. I come from a beautiful country (Canada) where I had lived a beautiful life. It was a given, and was indeed my plan, to one day go home.
But things happened after the deaths of my parents in the 1990s – drastic, unexpected and unforgivable things on the part of one single malevolent person: a family member (with the complicity of her husband and corrupt lawyers.) The end result is that I no longer wanted to return home.
They say many things about writing memoir: it’s like an exorcism; an excavation site; an “autopsy of the living and the dead.” That last simile is a quote from Kate Braverman, intrepid American poet-novelist who recently died.
It’s been an interesting ride, this memoir-writing. It unearths all sorts of things.
One day I will leave Paris, and when I do there are places I will miss terribly. Here are some favorite shopping and lunch places that I know for sure I will miss –