flying thoughts

Planewing

because we don’t have wings that flap

we drive we wait we cram we pack,

we measure, weigh, and stack our bags,

we pull at all those zippers.

 

and while dreaming or dreading our destinations,

we soar through clouds, perspectives shaken,

we imagine the breeze

we will windows away,

but then birds don’t need barf bags, do they.

 

and birds flap and they flutter, they screech and they sing

but we, we sit quiet and read magazines.

in neat rows with thin blankets, we shiver, we wait,

cradle plastic tea cups, pilot holding our fate.

 

whether joyful or stoic, feathers or skin,

leaving the ground equals taking a risk.

plan-pack or just leave, leave the nest not too late.

birds know it, as we do,

that flying takes faith.

reflecting: culture shock

swans

Several months ago, as I completed the orientation for my study abroad adventure, I was given a warning: you will experience culture shock. The honeymoon phase will end, they said. You will miss peanut butter, your family, your dog.

There was even a sort-of emotional line graph, intimidating with its steep drops (feelings of depression! anxiety! fatigue! resentment!) and begrudging crawls back up.

And so forewarned, I went to France, and I waited for it to sneak up and attack: culture shock, the promised monster under the bed.

In Paris, I looked over my shoulder between bites of warm mascarpone-filled crêpes and sips of cool rosé. I waited for it on evening boat rides as warm sunsets mingled with cool breezes and I shivered slightly in a sweater.

In Lyon, I watched for it still as I linked arms with new friends and grinned for photo after photo, a creeping dread reminding me that I might not be able to smile for much longer so I’d better capture the happy.

La vie en rose couldn’t last forever, I knew that. France’s gilded façade would soon crumble, and maybe I’d fall out of love and back into the star-spangled arms of my own country.

Culture shock was going to pounce, kill my joy, and steal my sense of adventure.

But then it didn’t.

I had problems and struggles, of course. Believe it or not, the trip wasn’t all laughs and lavender fields. There were plenty of times I sat sweaty on a metro going the wrong direction and had to say to myself in a voice more confident that I felt, well you wanted an adventure. Plenty of miscommunication with my host family. Plenty of staying up ’til two in the morning as I struggled to write French papers, the correct conjugated verb evading my grasp. Plenty of wishing I had a little more of that effortless Frenchwoman elegance and grace. Plenty of headaches, embarrassment, and schedule confusion; reading the sign just a little bit wrong. The development of some sort of sinus infection that led to a miserable week and a trip to a French doctor’s office. And plenty of feeling like the only one who didn’t know the rules, une étrangère.  

Despite that, over the course of the trip I felt no depression, no resentment, no loneliness, no sorrow. What I did feel was challenged.

I think it had a lot to do with all the answered prayers, and if you’re one of the lovely people who prayed for me before or during my trip, thank you! I really appreciate it, and I learned so much.

I’m also thankful for all the support. Thanks for asking me questions, reading my blog, and letting me share dreams and discoveries as I stumbled around starry-eyed with a notebook and a camera.

And hey, I didn’t miss peanut butter, not one little bit.

bisous,

jessica

La Vie en Sud

flower in poolOkay, I know that the South of France is like anywhere else when it comes down to it. Jobs. Chores. Sweat. Realities.

But when you visit for just a short while, the dream-bubble doesn’t have to burst. That’s where I like to live, summer-snowglobe land. Temporarily. pool dayspinkfleursAnd sometimes, maybe all the time, the simple things are best.

Fat ripe nectarines. No place to be. Bare feet. Working on a toasted-marshmallow tan. A good book. Metronomy’s first album on repeat. A sweet kitty friend. Gazing at the mountains. SpenceChips mountain viewThankful for times like these. :)

Theme song: 

Bisous and happy summer!

Jessica