Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ville de Nice

Bonjour! I am on a train to Aix-en-Provence after four days in Nice, France. My time was brief but rich. Traveling alone has granted me the unexpected luxury of spending minimal amounts of money. I have become less interested in consuming (both food & goods) as in simply experiencing, and this realization delights me greatly.

Every morning I strolled down to the beach with a yoga mat, towel, sunglasses, and a copy of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. I soaked in the warm sunshine and gazed out into the vibrant, electric azure of the Mediterranean. There is no sand on the beach – only small rocks, weathered to the softness of suede. When I was hot, I took a dip in the clear, light blue water. When I was hungry, I had a refreshing tuna baguette. When the midday sun got too harsh, I wandered into Old Town, where the tall historic buildings shaded the small cobblestone streets and provided relief from the sun. Every afternoon I treated myself to one scoop of lavender ice cream. In the evenings, I made my way back to the beach to watch the day’s palette turn from bright blues to soft pinks, yellows, and peaches.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11, ten years later

Ten years ago today, I was in a painting class as a junior in high school. We turned on the news and watched the smoke billow from the first tower, listening to the news anchors' alarmed confusion about the "accident" that had just occurred. Moments later, still glued to the TV, the second plane crashed live, right before our eyes. I will never forget that moment of horror. Every class was canceled that day as we quietly conversed and watched the news, hungry for information. That evening I went to a friend's house to study for an American History exam. We spoke of the irony of the situation as we went over flash cards for a piece of history that I can't even recall now. Though images and moments from that day will be forever vivid, the outstanding memory is that of coming together in a way that I had not experienced before. A true feeling of pride for the country - all fifty states united, mourning for the tragedy that occurred. My world was instantly expanded beyond my small coastal Georgia town - I now had a heightened interest for and awareness of the country at large, and the parts of the world that had attacked us.

Since that day, I have voted in two elections, graduated from high school and from college, moved to New York City, and worked for several companies - paying state & federal taxes. I am a New Yorker and also, in a way, more of an American citizen, in that I contribute and consume with my own income. I'm in Paris at the moment, which makes this ten year anniversary especially interesting for me because I'm looking at America from a somewhat removed perspective. It's funny though, because this trip abroad leaves me feeling less removed than previous trips across the pond. I have a computer with me and am able to email friends & family, check Facebook, and browse my favorite blogs.  Overall, I realize that I am still very connected. Through social media, I am able to check in daily with almost everyone I know - be it childhood friends, family, recent coworkers, or my best buds. It doesn't matter whether they are in New York, California, Amsterdam, or South Korea. We share stories, joys, sorrows, news, and photos. We engage in conversations: expressing sympathy to a friend for a loss of a parent, celebrating a beautiful home cooked meal, laughing together over the "d'oh" moments on the day, and high-fiving each other for accomplishments small and large.

I can't help but wonder if this shared desire for constant connectedness is in any way a response to 9/11 and the increased national unity that followed. While that past ten years have been filled with a generous share of bad news (Katrina & the collapse of the economy are two that come to mind immediately), I can't help but delight in the fact that we can now share the news - good and bad, all together. We remain united - through social media, but more importantly, through our desire to stay connected to each other.

P.S. While we are talking about 9/11, I have to take a moment to wish a very happy birthday to one of my dearest friends, Ashley Norton! While I can't be there to celebrate with her tonight, I can at least share my love on my blog, which I know she will read :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bonjour mes amis!

Greetings from Paris! After a whirlwind of a summer (leaving the magazine world after four years, striking out on my own to support myself through graphic design & letterpress printing), I am in Paris, calm & curious. Ever so lucky, friends of family friends offered to let me stay with them in the suburb of Vanves, which is incredibly charming.

I love the change of pace from New York to the suburbs. I love the beautiful 20 minute walk from the house to the metro station. I love the 20 minute metro ride from Vanves to the center of Paris, the time to quietly observe the Parisians around me, and to eagerly anticipate my day. In the evenings it's nice to sit on the metro after walking all day and reflect, and look forward to dinner with the family.

I am taking this time to just be with myself. My time in New York was almost always given outwards and rarely inwards. Amid the fast pace of the city, my goal-oriented & list-making nature intensified exponentially and I found myself working very hard (which I do enjoy) but without giving myself much time to rest & reflect (which I also enjoy, but rarely make time for).

While I love the city of Paris, what I am most enjoying is the luxury of travel. I've briefly stepped away from my life and have no to-do list or any deadlines to meet. I'm following a walking-tour book of Paris for some general direction, but for the most part I conduct my day based on my own immediate desires. If I want to stop on a bench and just look around for an hour, that is what I do. Or linger over a cafe au lait and a croissant at a cafe and write pages upon pages in my sketchbook. Or walk for hours up and down cobblestone streets admiring the bountiful flowers in the windows, snapping countless photographs.

It is literally a far off dream that has come true, and I am savoring every moment.