We knew that life in Paris would bring challenges. Weighing them against the fabulousness of living here resulted in an overall positive and life-enriching experience. I love Paris. I’ve loved living here – still love wandering the streets and gazing at the beautiful buildings. It’s an amazing city. But I want to hold onto that amazement, so it’s a good time to leave. Paris is not going anywhere and I can always come back for a visit. I feel like the person who is breaking up with another and saying that I still want to be friends!
We approached life in Paris with a huge dollop of humor – sometimes it’s the only way to push through the infuriating bureaucracy, the randomness of the French opening hours and the crazy people you often meet on the streets. (Though I’ve earned that title on occasion myself!) We still laugh when we have to put our conversation on hold as a siren in the street below our apartment drowns us out with its wail.
We got used to a lot of what Paris threw at us – the traffic noise, the night-time party revellers and even the 6am street cleaning trucks that move slowly and noisily beneath the bedroom windows. My French has even improved such that my “Bonjour” is often answered now in French. I’ve stopped noticing the beggars so much. Have I become inured to them or had they, like the rest of the Paris locals, left for the summer months? However, my heart still breaks for the homeless as they try to find comfort wherever they can.
|Homeless people sleeping in the Metro|
I want to move on with fondness still in my heart for this city and for this apartment with its beautiful parquet floor and ornate cornices; with those windows that open onto the balcony from which I often observe the world below go about their business; with my desk by those windows giving me the quintessential Paris writers perch.
All year, I’ve gazed at the cafe below our window, thinking, “I should go there with my laptop and drink coffee and write.” Yet, I only went there a handful of times and never with my laptop, only with other people – visitors from out of town. Because the truth of the matter is, I don’t like to sit alone in a cafe no matter how writerly I may look with my laptop. I need people – lots of people – in my life. I’m a social animal, and I’m Irish, so the best place for me is a place like Armagh where everyone knows everyone and social interaction does not involve military precision.
So we’re going before the little irritations of Paris become whopping pearls of annoyance – like, why are there always so many escalators broken in the Metro? Why is the parcel delivery still such a mystery? And why don’t French shops use AC? Why must the bottle bank below our bedroom window be emptied at 7am on a Saturday, a mere half-hour after the drunks have finished serenading us? And then there’s the signage that stops three turns short of its destination…
Before these and many other annoyances take a firm hold, I want us to move on, move home! I want my family to drop in on me and I on them. I want to spend lazy weekends hanging out with friends. I want green fields. I want damp autumn winds blowing in my hair; a surprise snowy day in winter; the excitement of that first snowdrop in spring; birdsong insomnia in the summer; cosy points of Guinness by the fire – possible all year long in Ireland. I want to feel excited again about a sunny day and to drop everything to take full advantage of it. But most of all – I want the craic!
We’re lucky that my husband can work from home. So we decided to forgo the extortionate Paris rents and go home when the 1-year lease is up on the apartment. I’ll miss the cheap cheese, caviar and wine and the architecture and the “mood” of Paris…
But I’ll happily exchange it for delicious cider, artisan gins, Guinness, Tayto crisps, potato-bread, black pudding – Armagh is now being dubbed as “the food heartland” and there is a lot of culture that I’d never before appreciated. And let’s not forget our own stunning architecture.
For a long time now I have yearned to gaze over the mists that lie in the hollows of the fields on our soft Irish days. It took me a decade and a couple of trips around the world to realize that there is one fair county in Ireland – I’m fortunate to call it home and even more lucky to be able to answer its call to come home.
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time”
It feels like another new beginning, as exciting as any we’ve undertaken abroad, but without the homesickness and heartache of missing loved ones. All things considered – I simply can’t wait to go home, back to the start of something wonderful.