It's time to return to Sydney after being in Paris for most of October and November. Somebody asked me if I felt I could stay longer or if it was time to move on.
I said that I was looking forward to being back in Australia but pleased that I am coming back here in three or four months time. I went on to explain that life for me is not complete in Sydney and neither is it complete here in Paris. But between the two cities it is.
I'm very aware of how fortunate I am to be able to establish myself in two cities. I believe it's important that we all use our imagination and resources to seize the opportunities and challenges that our circumstances offer.
I think it's about finding an equilibrium in my state of being, which is something we all need. The term sure-footed comes to mind. I feel that I am excessively sure-footed in Sydney and not at all sure-footed in Paris.
People face this kind of challenge in various ways. Some establish themselves in their professions and social circles, and then they welcome children into their lives even though they know it will upturn their established order. Others don't have children and look to extend themselves in different ways.
I find it easiest to write these letters when I feel there is order in my life. That is why they've been few and far between during these two months.
Here my energies are focused on tasks such as getting the right pieces of paper that will allow me to establish accounts with the electricity utility and the bank. My bank account works but I still have to jump through one more hoop before the debit card they sent me will work in ATMs and supermarkets.
Years ago I used to hear it said that the French are rude and unhelpful. My experience has been the opposite. I have found them nurturing.
I remember telling a shop assistant that I did not need a bag. I said 'pas sac', and he corrected me by indicating that 'pas de sac' is how it's said. His tone was nurturing, not a put down. That experience was repeated multiple times, most recently when the woman at the Bastille Market told me I wanted 'une carotte', not 'un carotte', which is how I'd put my request.
I feel affirmed by these exchanges, and each is a small step towards becoming more sure-footed in my new surrounds.
Years ago I remember feeling small after an offhand remark from a guide at the United Nations building in New York City.
'Is this where you get to see how the UN works?', I asked, stating the obvious because that's what came into my head. 'That's the general idea' was his put down response, which reflected the kind of attitude that I'd grown up expecting to get from the French.