18 Oct 2013

Happiphany: on missing things and being OK with that

Two months, but it feels like so much longer. I'm not sure when it happened, but one minute it was the height of summer here and the next I looked around and everyone was wearing coats and there was the first dusting of snow on the mountains and I was nearly killing myself riding over conkers on my way to uni in the morning.

Today I booked my ticket home for Christmas, and as much as I'm having a wonderful time here (and, as I realised last night, my French has made a marked improvement. I'm not saying I'm fluent or anything, but I feel it would not be too much of a stretch to start responding to the question Parlez-vous français? with Oui, without my usual appendage of un peu.) having a solid date and time when I will be returning to that green and pleasant land has given me butterflies. It feels like looking forward to Christmas when I was little, before I got jaded and cynical. It's this kind of half-stinging, half-lovely longing for the people and places I miss - which is painful, but at the same time I'm aware that the missing of things is a symptom of loving things, and that makes it warming somehow.
There's nothing quite like moving to a different country to make you appreciate everything you have. I can't quite believe what a change I've seen in myself the last few months. It's been like an epiphany of happiness and gratefulness. A happiphany, if you will.
There are lots of things I like about living here. The café-lined streets, the way people dress up for lectures, the vast selection of jams and preserves, the very cheap wine. There are also a lot of things that make me realise that I couldn't, as far as I can see at this moment in time, ever really live here. I never considered myself a patriot before and I still don't really - it's just that I already belong to another place, and all the wine and cheese in France couldn't lure me away from that.

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