After seven months away, I’m back in Paris for a while and am greedily soaking up every minute of it. After two weeks, I’ve slipped back into many of my happy habits, though I’ve come to realize that settling back into my Parisian life does require a few active adjustments. For instance:
1. Dietary shifts. You’d be surprised how fulfilling a diet composed solely of butter, cheese, Dijon, bread, chocolate and macarons can be. Although I must admit, a steady stream of coffee and wine leave me perpetually dehydrated. Note to self: water is the essence of life, even in Paris.
2. Embracing linguistic limbo. When I get back to France, I regularly find myself in situations where two, three, or four languages are being spoken simultaneously. While the linguistic mélange is always exciting, I find that my English often starts to slip before my French has time to pick up the slack, and I am therefore left in a strange language-less limbo. The other day, I actually referred to a tambourine as a tangerine, which confused everyone around me. Even more confounding: why was I holding a tambourine?
3. Walking habits. When I first get here from New York, I am usually still in NY-walking mode. This causes me to weave in and out of people in metro tunnels, cross streets without heeding walk signals (the nerve!), and risk knocking over senior citizens and small children with my aggressive striding. Note to self: slow down, tiger!
4. Impulse control (or lack there of). Something about being in Paris makes me want to follow every whim that passes through my brain—whether that means eating an entire baguette (what? it’s still warm…) to staying out until sunrise. Sometimes these impulses lead to great adventures, sometimes not. The other night, I literally exclaimed, “The clock is ticking and I’ve still never been a bartender!” and vowed to revamp my whole life plan. I still haven’t decided whether this was a follow-worthy whim or not. What do you think?
5. Adjusting to “Paris time.” This is the most significant adjustment, but it’s not what it sounds like. It has nothing to do with jet lag or time zones, and it doesn’t actually involve much effort: it happens quite naturally. As soon as I get to Paris, my internal clock and sense of scheduling go dormant. I am suddenly 15-30 minutes late for everything (non-negotiable). In addition, I rarely know what time (or day) it is. The presence / absence of the sun is slightly helpful, though it’s February, so darkness is the dominant theme. Rather than structuring my days around the actual time, I adhere to a more organic schedule that involves: croissant time, coffee time, aimless wandering time, reading / writing time, time for an apéro!, cheese time, social time, dancing time, “what do you mean it’s 5am?”, bedtime. Occasionally there are some more annoying elements in the mix (work), but overall, “Paris time” is pretty blissful. Note to self: never leave Paris.