The phrase "wake up slow" has never really been something I understood. Sure I sleep in sometimes, but I never really allow myself to just lay in bed and absorb the world around me. This morning, however, I was greeted with a beautiful beam of sunshine around 8 am. It wasn't the kind of sunshine that blinds your sensitive eyes upon opening them. The rays were gentle, warming and beautiful. I turned to look out my window and saw the day had already begun, but there were no hustle and bustle sounds outside. There was a calm, serene feeling. So I moved myself a little bit to let the sun rest on my face, and blinking a few times I wondered if I looked like a Black and White actress who had just been awakened by her true love. Batting my eyes like a starlet, I smiled and turn over on my side to feel the sun on my back.
Facing the corner, I saw the sun didn't just stop on the small of my back, it was shining over me, projected onto my white wall, broken into little drops of sunshine as it came through my lace curtains. Moving my body once a little once more, I felt my face illuminate and I smiled again, falling back to sleep.
I wake up an hour or so later, and realize it's Saturday. If any day is a perfect day for waking up slow, it's Saturday. My agenda for the day, get lost in Centre Pompidou and look at every piece of Modern Art that catches my eye. The other piece of agenda, capture every moment of Parisian weekend life I can. There's less than 7 days left in my adventure, and while I've taken full advantage of every opportunity that has come my way, part of me thinks there is still more to be uncovered.
I won't lie and say I'm excited to return to the states. Sure, I'm excited to see my friends and family, and play with my dogs, but as far as living in the U.S. goes, I can't pretend like I feel at home there anymore. There's a major difference in feeling accepted by your friends and family and feeling at ease in a city surrounded by strangers. I could never leave my family behind, but I didn't realize how differently I live my life compared to the people in Miami. The University is great, but I realized that I constantly tell myself the fast paced life of Miami is too much for me, it's not my style. And then I just kind of laugh it off and move onto a new subject. But I can't keep ignoring that. The drivers are not nice, you can't stop and talk to a stranger for more than 30 seconds to ask for directions, and you certainly can't just spend 2 hours in a little restaurant with a friend. And I can't think of many places in the U.S. that you can do that.
I love my country, and I love the people in it, but everyday I am here, I realize there was a huge piece of me missing. It's the piece I've been searching for since I was old enough to make my own decisions. The piece of me that's been missing this whole time is a connection with other human beings that's more than just passing each other by on the street. I'm not saying the French are the most friendly people in the world, but people aren't afraid to ask you for a lighter, a cigarette, which metro is closest, etc. People in bars are genuninely interested in what you're doing in Paris, what kinds of things you've done. There's no one way street here, everything is personal and shared.
Okay, so not everyone here is as peace and love, recycling is awesome, and free-spirited as I am. But they get it. They don't mock it, and they see the genuine love in my eyes when I talk about my tattoos, or when I talk about political issues in America and attempt to explain how not every American agrees with the war. They can see a more passionnate side of a younger person, and its refreshing to be valued as an equal here, and not a minor, or just a student with sometimes radical beliefs.
I know I said I would try to find myself along the way, and I knew that was a bold statement to make with just 5 weeks to do so. But looking back after only 4 weeks in Europe, I really have found myself. It's not just wishful thinking when I say I want to change the world one heart at a time, it's a creedo. It's my creedo. And I think it is safe to say I have sufficiently started that process here in Paris, with my own heart and maybe a couple hearts around me.
To the Americans who I've been so lucky to meet, I hope we can stay in touch. And to the Parisians I've quickly become great friends with, and who look out for me at night, or who smile at me when I walk by the fountain, I hope I can look back at these places in a year or five years, or thirty years and know that I changed their life for the better, and they changed mine as well.
Noontime next Saturday I will be making my way to the airport, with a tear in my eye and a bag full of memories.