I’m coming home

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 9.37.25 PM

Maybe this won’t come as a surprise to you, but it certainly does to me.

First I will address the elephant that is my gaping lack of blog posts in the past year. I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time I posted something, so unless you follow me on Snapchat you may have believed me to be dead. But alas, no, I am still very much alive and living off salt water and croissants (to be clear I’m not drinking the salt water, just bathing in it).

I haven’t written anything because I haven’t had anything to write about. “But Marryl,” you say, “you’re a nanny in the South of France. You drink champagne more often than Coca-Cola. You picnic on the beach every other day. You’re starting to lose count of the number of countries you’ve visited. How can you POSSIBLY have nothing to write about?” Well, my dear readers, I guess the problem is I have too much to write about, and only things that would probably make people low-key resent me. In the past month alone I’ve kayaked the Mediterranean, drunk Sangria in Spain, climbed the steep hills of Monte Carlo, and shopped in Saint-Tropez, and that’s just the weekends. On weekdays I sip espresso while smelling our lavender plants, eat homemade provencale ratatouille, and go to the beach more times than I can keep track of. My life is incredible, and incredibly brag-worthy, and for that reason I don’t really want to talk about it.

Because I’m not doing this for the instagram likes. I’m not doing this for the stories down the road. Sure, maybe I spend a little too much time staging some of my Snapchats, but only because I know it’ll be gone forever in twenty-four hours, and my guilt will disappear with it. But still feel a little bad about it because I don’t want people to think that my goal is to boast or make anyone feel jealous. So I just don’t talk about it. France is for me, and for the people I’ve been sharing this experience with, so I don’t really feel the need to talk about it. So please don’t think I’m a terrible person who’s going to come home and be like, “Oh yes, this pinot isn’t bad, but it’s grape juice compared to the lovely Bordeaux I had one night in a private beach cabana at sunset on the Mediterranean Sea.”

(I’m not making that up, though I don’t know if it was a Bordeaux; I think it was just boxed rosé and ooookay I’ll stop now because do you see how easy it is for me to sound like such a pompous bitch??)

Speaking of coming home, I’m coming home! If you’ve been following my life, this might not come as a surprise to you, since the whole point of being an Au Pair was I go to France for one year, and then I come back. But this comes as quite a surprising and mixed-emotional thing for me to say, because for a long time I though-slash-hoped I would never be coming home.

I fell in love with France and I fell in love hard. And like true love, it’s impossible to describe. There is just something about the way of life here that is so special and makes me feel so warm and happy. So, very early on in my year I decided I would like to stay in France, and I began looking into my options, because I’ve lived in Canada my entire life one year just isn’t enough time to truly grasp a country. Okay, FINE, I’ll admit it: I also wanted to stay because along with France I fell in love with a French boy. For the longest time I fiercely denied that I wanted to stay for him, because I knew everyone back home would tell me I’m crazy to make such a huge move for a boy (and I would tell myself I’m crazy, too). But in the pie chart of the sources of happiness in my life in France, Arthur makes up a very, very big slice. And I just can’t ignore that, nor do I want to. Before moving I joked that I would fall in love with some French marine and never move home, and well whaddaya know, it actually happened.

Buuuuut unfortunately, staying in a country is more more complicate than just employing sheer willpower. I’ll spare you the boring administrative details, but basically it’s nearly impossibility to obtain another Visa, and on top of that, Arthur is temporarily moving to Northern France, and my best/only French friend Emilie is moving back to Canada. So I-slash-we came to the conclusion that it is best for me to come home. I can see my family and friends and cat and rediscover the country I haven’t been in for a year and maybe actually get a real job that generates income that I don’t dedicate entirely to a weekend in Monaco. Oh, and poutine. I can eat lots and lots of poutine.

Though it wasn’t the final answer I thought I’d be giving Regis Philbin, I’m overjoyed to be coming home. And I don’t need to justify my choice, even though as a young twenty-sometime I do feel that constant pressure to prove myself to everyone after graduation. But what I’ve learned in my year since graduating is that we all have So. Much. Damn. Time. I’m young and curious and adventurous and porous like a sponge and I don’t need to do the exact same thing for the rest of my life. Nor is there any specific path I should feel obligated to follow. If I want to spend three years eating fresh fruit on a beach and teaching English in Tahiti while Arthur is placed there for the Navy then DAMMIT I WILL. Because I’m young and free and can do whatever the heck I want if I want to.

(That may or may not be an actually thing that could happen but I’ll save some secrets for later to keep you coming back for more.)

What will I do when I’m back in Canada? Six months from now? One year from now? Who knows. But also, who needs to know? I’ll figure it out when I figure it out, and that’s all that matters. What is important is that in the last year I have learned more than I thought possible, and certainly more than I would have learned staying in Canada. This move home doesn’t have to be permanent, and it certainly won’t be. I am an intelligent, talented, independent woman. I know who I am, I know what I want, and I am confident that wherever I go, I will be proud of myself for arriving there. But I will say I am very, very excited to come home.

Oh, and if you actually know me in real life and are excited by this information, you’ll be even more excited to know that Arthur is coming with me!!! For about two weeks at the end of August. Because somehow that boy has seen 36 countries, but NEVER Canada. I’m pretty sure he might cry when I take him to Niagara Falls. So even if you aren’t exciting by my return, you can at least look forward to the presence of a tall, dark, handsome French man probably sporting a moustache and striped shirt.

(Also please, please promise me if you meet him you’ll laugh at his accent when he speaks English because it’s so gosh darn cute, because he does that to me all the time when I speak French to the point that I just don’t bother speaking French to him. It’s time for payback.)

Soooo yeah, I have come out from my blogging hiatus momentarily and honestly I’ll probably just crawl right back into my little turtle shell of radio silence until I’m home, because I will be spending my summer profiting from the time I have left. Maybe when I’m home I’ll write about my experiences, but then again I might save all my secrets for a soon-to-be bestselling novel. Because who doesn’t want to read about the fourteen different varieties of cheese I ate in one night??

You can now start planning my numerous welcome back parties. I’ll bring the wine.

Advertisements

Falling in love with/in France

img_1273

One of the, like, seven photos I’ve taken since I got here because I hate taking photos

My kids just finished two weeks of holidays from school (because apparently All Saints’ Day requires two weeks to reflect upon in France), and for one of those weeks they were shipped off to their grandparents’ house, so I took advantage of the freedom and spent nine days exploring Amsterdam, Hamburg, and Berlin. It was a super cool and super fun trip, but about half way through I found myself really homesick, but not for Canada, for France. And as my plane was landing in Nice on Sunday night, I literally almost cried from pure happiness of being back in the South of France. That was in part because I live in a city where November 1st can be a beach day, but it was mostly because France feels like home.

It’s really shocking how easily I’ve fallen in love with the South of France. Yes, it’s beautiful, the language is beautiful, the people are beautiful, and there’s always an endless supply of bread and rosé. But those are tangible things. It’s easy to love those (especially the bread and rosé). But the feeling I had in my heart when I walked out of the Toulon train station upon arriving last weekend is indescribable. I am so content, it’s rather unbelievable.

I had a hella stressful four years of university, between academics, work, and relationships, and on top of all that going through a rollercoaster of identity, doubting my abilities and self-worth, and discovering the corruptive power of my anxiety. But I am hardly ever anxious anymore. Sure, sometimes I get a little stressed out, but I no longer constantly feel worried about nothing or like I’m forgetting something important. I have finally let myself relax and enjoy what is right in front of me, and it’s incredible.

Keeping children alive and happy is no easy task, but I do realize that I don’t have a real job and I’m essentially living a vacation and that’s probably why I feel so chill. However, I would argue that most people I’ve met here act like they’re on vacation, too. They all enjoy life and everything it has to offer. Maybe it’s something in the salty water.

I had no goal coming into all this for what I’d do after this year is up, but slowly that goal is turning into “figure out how to stay in France by any means possible.” Seriously. I love Canada, I really do, but with every passing day my desire to stay forever grows and grows. So if you happen to receive an invite to a wedding next summer on the Mediterranean Sea just know that it is totally absolutely 100% legal and not at all like Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds in The Proposal nope not at all please RSVP and don’t call immigration.

As for the “in” part of this post’s title? Well, let’s just say France has pleasantly surprised me in all facets of my life. You know what they say about the French language…

French Thanksgiving

To answer your question, no, Thanksgiving is not a thing in France. They’re totally oblivious to the idea of celebrating the harvest or remembering our European settlers or whatever other probably racially insensitive thing this holiday was created from.

But when you have a Canadian girl with passable culinary skills living with you, Thanksgiving is a thing in France.

My indescribably wonderful host family is really keen on the idea of an exchange of culture, even though I constantly tell them that “Canadian culture” consists of a mix of European and American traditions, covered in a light drizzle of maple syrup and/or cheese curds. Still, they insist on being educated in my Canuck ways, so about a week ago we decided we would host a Canadian Thanksgiving.

On one hand, I was jazzed to get a taste of home. On the other hand, I was terrified as heck because I’d literally never made Thanksgiving dinner, plus I’m a vegetarian so I don’t even know how to make half the dishes?????

But apparently I’m braver/more stupid than I thought, so on Saturday I spent literally the whole day in the kitchen (albeit a little hungover because that’s half the tradition) with my host mom, making stuffing, veggies, potatoes, turkey (which was actually chicken because you can only get turkey at Christmas in the French Riviera), and pumpkin pie to feed 9 adults and 4 children, most of whom were experiencing Thanksgiving for the first time ever.

YEAH OKAY NO PRESSURE OR ANYTHING.

But it turned out amazing. Like, better than I could have dreamed. They loved the food. I made stuffing for the first time in my life and wow not to boast but it was DELICIOUS. And I made an entire pumpkin pie from scratch in a country that doesn’t sell canned pumpkin purée because they have literally never heard of pumpkin pie nor do they understand that it is a dessert.

I see a French green card in my future because I am totally wife material.

(Okay, chill, I know that was, like, the least feminist thing to say but IT WAS A JOKE OKAY??)

(Not entirely a joke. I’m lowkey looking for a French husband to keep me in the country shhh don’t tell immigration.)

All bragging and joking aside, it may very well have been the best Thanksgiving I have ever had. Maybe it was the champagne (and I’m talking REAL champagne, not sparkling wine) but I almost teared up a few times our of pure thankfulness for my host family. I sound like a Charlie Brown special, but honestly, I really learned the meaning of Thanksgiving this year. I have such an incredible family who are so invested in my life and my culture that they are willing to orchestrate probably the most complicated Canadian holiday, so that they can learn more about me and give me a welcoming French experience. I genuinely feel like the most fortunate human being in the world, and I am trying so hard to not take any of this for granted because holy crap I am really damn lucky.

I still don’t know what I’m going to do after France. Heck, I don’t know if I will ever leave France at this point, if I can swing it (re: wife material). My future is more uncertain than it’s ever been but eff the future because the present is pretty freakin fantastic.

I realize I come from a lot of privilege, so I will not just say, “you, too, can have an amazing life like this!!” because I know that’s a narrow-minded perspective. But what I will say is do not settle for anything. I know I sound like a broken record in all my French blog posts, but seriously, moving to France is probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done, but I’ve never wanted something more, and I’ve never been happier. So reach as far as you can, and then go one step further.

Oh and just a heads up I’ll be starting a pastry business if I ever move back to Canada because DAMN I make a good pie.

French Month-iversary

img_1108

This Friday (September 30th) marks my one month anniversary of moving to France, and you better believe I will treat myself to a pastry from the Boulangerie around the corner to celebrate.

Holy crap it’s been a month. It does not feel like I have been here that long. Honestly, it still doesn’t feel real at all. Even a month in, I still stop myself and think, oh my god, I literally live in France. In. France. You’d think it would have hit me by now, considering how much baguette and wine I consume on the daily.

But one thing is for absolute sure: I do not regret it at all.

In the past month I have not once cried about being homesick. I have not called my parents in a panic. I have not curled up in the floor in a puddle of lamentation for my life in Canada. I never really expected to do any of those things, but I also never expected NOT to do them, ya know?

But how can you feel regret in such a stunning place? The the culture and the scenery and the people and the language and the food and the everything. You can do some cool shit here, and boy have I done some cool shit.

I’ve gone to the beach more times in the past month than I think I have in my entire life. I’ve consumed meals on the beach so often that I am no longer phased by the view. I’ve gone stand up paddle boarding on the Mediterranean. I’ve had dinner on a rooftop with the most beautiful French people, drinking the most delicious champagne. I’ve gone swimming in a pool at a villa on a hill overlooking the sea. And I’ve done a few other wonderful things that I can’t share on such a public platform.

And that’s just the big stuff; don’t even get me started on sipping espresso outside cafés and wandering along cobblestone streets and exploring harbours and speaking more French than I realized I knew and drinking wine, oh my god, drinking wine.

And perhaps the most incredible thing of all is that while doing these things, I have been welcomed with such uninhibited love from everyone I have encountered. Maybe it’s because they feel bad for me because I’m foreign or maybe they’re fascinated by my long legs and pasty skin (JK I FINALLY GOT A TAN!!!) but every person I encounter here treats me like a best friend from the moment they kiss both my cheeks. The most loving of the bunch has been my host family, for whom there are no sufficient words to describe how warmly they’ve welcomed me into their family, and the respect and appreciation I have for them.

I have a family and friends and I am truly making a life for myself here, and it’s so incredibly exciting that I have another year to continue to explore and learn and enjoy (and work on my tan).

Sometimes I feel bad for posting snapchats and instagrams and really anything about my French life because I don’t like bragging. But in talking about my adventures, particularly through my blog, my goal isn’t to boast about how amazing my life is, but to try to inspire anyone who will listen to chase after what they want. I am being very careful to not say “follow your dreams” because dreams happen when you’re asleep and I am very much awake. I know that sounds cheesy, but a friend I have made in France once said to me, in English but with a heavy French accent, “I am not living my dream, I am living my life.” His words really resonated with me (and not just because they sounded hilarious/beautiful with an accent) because, honestly, I don’t know what my dream is. Every since graduating university, I’ve had absolutely no idea how to answer the question, “What is your dream job?” and that is terrifying. But I am starting to learn, with the help of this incredible place and my new friend, that I don’t need to live a dream, I need to live my life. And, honestly, I think I’m doing a pretty damn good job (re: list of cool shit I’ve done).

Live your life. Do whatever you want. As morbid as it sounds, we’re all going to die at some point, so it’s more of a risk to not do what you want when you want to. You could claim that you’re young, you have time. But when you’re young, your life is much more malleable, and I firmly believe that the things you experience now will impact your entire life more than things later on. At the risk of being sued by Nike, I’m telling you to just fucking do it.

Two weeks ago when I was sitting on a paddle board on the Mediterranean, I was low key stranded because my friend had stolen my paddle, so I just sat there and looked out at everything and I honestly felt the happiest I have ever felt in my entire life. And that was the moment I realized that taking this big risk was absolutely worth it.

On ne vit qu’une fois. (That’s french for YOLO.)

I’m moving to France on Monday

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 4.34.49 PM

How’s that for some click bait.

But unlike click bait, what you see is what you get. Because I’m actually moving to France. On Monday.

“Wait… What???!???!?”

On Monday I am hopping on a plane and moving to the city of Toulon in the South of France to live and work as an Au Pair for a beautiful family, for one year. For those of you who aren’t familiar, “Au Pair” is French for “a nanny who does hardly any work.” My job entails occasionally watching two adorable French children and helping them with their English, while eating their French food and living in their French home, which is a 5 minute walk from the Mediterranean Sea, btw.

I know. To quote our gods Jay Z and Yeezy, that shit cray.

If you’re thinking, “What the hell Marryl you leave Monday and I’m just finding out now??” I’m terribly sorry. If it makes you feel any better, I’m also just finding out now. Seriously. I got a call about my Visa being approved like two hours ago, and I just booked my flight. YOLO, right?

(s/o to the other god, Drizzy.)

If you’re wondering, “Why,” first of all you’re crazy because um why not?? I’M LITERALLY LIVING ON THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA. But seriously, I just graduated university, and I don’t know what I want to do with my life beyond something that is fulfilling. And I want to travel. So I figure this is a good option that doesn’t leave me completely broke.

If you want to keep up with my adventures (I’m not even close to Kardashian level of interest but I’ll do my best), I’ll be even more social-media obsessed than I am now, so follow me in insta/twitter/snapchat or whatever. Everything is “marrylsmith”. Oh god I feel like I’m ending a youtube vlog. Whatever. Shameless self promotion is the spice of life.

Oh and I’ll probably also blog a bit since my blog already has a French name so when I post on Wednesday it’ll actually be Mercredi where I am which, if you ask me, is LITERALLY THE BEST PART OF ALL THIS. Okay, so not literally. But close.

Okay anyway I have to go pack my whole life into 33 kilos of checked luggage BYE.