“Why the life?”

I like TV Shows, especially on Netflix, because they’re like a movie that never ends. I can climb into bed and slip into a world of familiar characters and places. I know their inside jokes and I know what’s going on in their lives right now, and that is comforting for me — especially when I’m far away from my familiar places and friends. Gilmore Girls and Dexter have provided innumerable (well, 8 seasons x 22 episodes + 8 seasons x 12 episodes) hours of comfort and entertainment for me overseas.

Unfortunately, I exaggerate: TV Shows do end. All things eventually end, especially when you’re a young person finding your way in the world (aka the Era of Temporary Jobs). What’s different is that in real life, endings get personal.

It’s all well and good to finish a TV show. It is, after all, a carefully constructed universe in which all resolves itself. The good guys come out on top and the bad guys get what’s coming to them. Even if you don’t like the ending, there is no alternative. Maybe there were some shocking moments, but if they were too much to handle you could always turn it off and watch Parks and Rec for a while instead. It’s also a nice, clean break. I can finish Dexter and never think of it again. It doesn’t particularly influence my self-concept or personal narrative or future. It’s someone else’s life, accelerated through all the important parts.

But an experience like this one…all escapes are temporary. No pause or refresh or replay buttons exist. And more importantly, everything affects my self-concept, my personal narrative, and my future. It’s MY life, and it shapes who I am in the most profound ways. And I feel gutted by it sometimes. 

If I had a choice, I’d keep things as they are right now, April 2015: endless laughter-filled picnics entr’amis, cute little “‘ello Anne!” shouts in the hallways, lunch in the cantine with my favorite teachers. But this feeling of desperate longing for sameness is familiar. Every time things are good, there’s some desire for them to stay the same, or to live them over and over again. If I could replay Whitman, for example, I might have done it then — but I wouldn’t do it now. I’ve laid it to rest in my memory, and there it stays forever.

It’s time to do the work of laying this experience to rest forever. As I wrote to myself the other day, “I CAN’TTTT! But I must.” I must remember that even though some good times are past, others are yet to come. Who knows where I’ll be a year from now? (If you do, give me a hint plz? thanks). Who knew where I’d be last year at this time, when I was finishing up my thesis and getting ready to graduate?

The title of this post is one of the questions I got on my second to last day of class this week, carefully constructed by a particularly philosophical 12 year old. Why the life? Indeed. As my friends and I joked on our last night together in Val, we wish we hadn’t made friends, we wish we’d stayed holed up in our separate apartments and never interacted and been miserable…then, we might be happy to go home. I still reflect on the beginning of the year, when I arrived and knew nobody, prepared to go it alone for as long as necessary. Then people materialized, and those people became some of my closest friends.

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I am not happy to be leaving Val. I am excited for my next adventure. My situation is going to change. The contract for my job in France is officially almost terminated. My lease is up. This post is almost complete. I’ll soon be leaving France. I feel like someone has reached inside me and twisted my guts, permanently, at the thought of all my new friends scattering. I’m saying some goodbyes without knowing when I’ll see a friend again. They might be the hardest goodbyes ever.

And yet, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I only have trouble saying goodbye to people who have really wormed their way into my heart. And whether they reappear in my life in person or not, they’ll still be in that heart and in my mind, warming me up from the inside out.

Why the life? Because it’s full of love and surprises…and even when it’s sad, it’s the bomb.

“Why the life?”

Picnicking à la “Aixoise”

You know life is good when you can eat every meal for three days outside.

This past weekend, I chased the sunshine to the Académie of Aix-Marseille for a visit with two great friends, their friends, and some new Southern cities!

Friday was spent with Caro, who was my guide around Aix. Although she lives in an Alpine (but actually, in the Alps) village, she spends nearly every weekend with friends in the beautiful nearby city of Aix-en-Provence! Our first stop was the daily (or nearly daily) marché, which was full of special Aixois products, like herbs de provence and lavender, and even some lavender cheese (it’s that blue thing behind the saucissons).


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We went to the English bookstore for some coffee and book buying and had a delicious (and cheap) Greek lunch. Any menu where you can have two of everything is my kind of menu…


We got a little dessert (une Tropézienne which is like a cream puff) and sat in the park. It was the zennest (note my sleevelessness; it was WARM!).


That evening was picnic number one, where we met up with Leah and Caro’s friends and their visitors. About 20 bottles of Heineken, juice, wine, and some sticks of buttery bread were involved in this apéro picnic, as were “Head’s Up!” and B.S. (the card game).

We picnicked for brunch and dinner the next morning, once in Aix and once in Marseille. In Aix it was Crepes a-go-go, the local takeout crêpe stand. In Marseille, we chose a spot next to the Mediterranean.




Pretty sweet, huh? This was my first-ever glimpse of the Southern coast. Thank goodness I’ll be back in a few weeks for a trip to the islands of Greece!

The last day was Easter Sunday, and our original plan had been to hike up Mt St Victoire, but as it was a holiday AND a Sunday (in France, this means ALL IS CLOSED), the buses were too infrequent. We opted instead for a luxurious picnic in a slightly-farther-away park followed by a gym workout. Even the gym in Aix made me feel like I was on vacation. They have special rooms where you can choose a workout instructor video and do a fun step-aerobics class or elliptical training session. Leah and I had fun tripping all over ourselves as we tried so hard to master the routines. After a shower, Leah made us ramen and we headed out to meet the others for a PSG-Marseille football (soccer) game viewing session. The Marseillais were out in full force, so the disappointment was palpable when PSG won…a last night well spent, nonetheless. No casualties.

Southerners have a reputation for being extra relaxed, more superficial, and less warm and welcoming than their Northern counterparts. I didn’t meet enough French people to really confirm or deny that stereotype, but the city itself seemed like a beautiful, shallow, flirtatious girl. It was attractive, but all we really did was eat! Picnicking is the best representation of the culture of Southern France: slow, laid-back, sunny, a perfect activity to do with friends, and gourmand (depending on your alimentation, of course — we opted for rotisserie chicken sandwiches). And when this is your chosen spot…it really can’t go wrong.


Picnicking à la “Aixoise”