The Summer of Instability

I haven't been myself in a while.

On Friday, I was "great-granddaughter," who attended her father's Nana's funeral. Thursday night I was "dutiful daughter who raced with her mother to her dying Nana's bedside and missed her by 45 minutes." And so this morning I was "granddaughter," who attended her Nana's funeral. Sometimes this morning I was "Susie's daughter sobbing" and other times I was "Steve's sister holding him while he sobbed." And twice this weekend I was "daughter watching with her heart in her throat while her parents gave heartfelt eulogies."

We are a tired family. And I have not escaped the fatigue.

The deaths in our family are only part of this. Another part of this is that I have decided to leave Paris, my place in this world, and I am moving back to New York. I have accepted a job here, one that allows me to use my French and my writing. I am thrilled about the job and about moving to the city. Sometimes I daydream about all of the places I want to explore here, the cinemas I want to get to know, the bookstores I want to peruse. Driving to work lately has given me ample time to imagine my life again as a New Yorker, but this time even more real than ever because I will live IN the magic. Maybe neighborhoody Brooklyn or maybe sleek Manhattan; either way it feels like an achievement to even be allowed to live within its limits.

But leaving Paris is like looking a soulmate in the eyes and walking away. I have a hard time with these kinds of things. I do not like closing doors on options and I definitely don't like closing doors on places or people that make me feel like the best version of myself. But career-wise, France is not the kind of place I want it to be.

Coming to this decision has felt like moving to the next step in my life, a step when I actually have a Career and I can foresee a path towards brighter and wonderful challenges. But my soul has taken a bit of a beating in the process and sometimes when I'm in the weight room at the gym I get teary-eyed about not being able to walk around St. Michel at night and watch the fire-throwers. Just thinking about not having the option of walking over a bridge whenever I'd like makes my throat tighten up. Not to mention leaving an entire continent of friends. These are the types of decisions that make you grow up fast, that prove that you are in control of the life you choose to lead, that present you with two very possible paths. The heaviness comes in making the choice.

I stayed with my Mom this weekend to help her start cleaning out Nana's house. With every photo and every object, the truth stared me in the face: here lies a life. Here lies evidence of a person's choices, a person's accomplishments and failures. Here is what remains. It was beautiful and overwhelming and I guess I'm still trying to work my way towards some comprehension of all of this, the options we choose and the directions towards which we end up headed.

It's an amazing thing.


Anonymous said...

good luck darling,sincerely i wish you all the best

you know i'll always be your friend even if i'm living far away from you!

EricC said...

Hey Jen,

sorry to hear about the passing of not one, but two grandmas in a week. I hope you are doing ok.

As for the job thing, I think I understand and not sure after you get started here, I will be moving on! SO weird how it all works.

Good luck with everything and hope to see you soon.

georgie said...

once again, so sorry for the losses.

i say move to brooklyn! i was in park slope all weekend, and despite severely jamming my finger while playing tennis in prospect park (almost as cool as central park and less crowded!), i did not want to leave brooklyn by the end of the weekend. manhattan's great too though! :)

Anonymous said...

Je pense à toi Jen, j'espère que tout va un peu mieux.. Envoie-moi des nouvelles quand t'auras l'occas.

Tu me manques trop..

gros gros bisous,

Mad xxxxxxxx

PS DEF feeling you on the top model thing - so bad but just SO so good! xxx