It was November 10, 2002. I woke up in a hotel room hungry and alone. I needed to find a grocery store to pick up a few staples – maybe some nice goat cheese and baguette. A chocolate bar too, and some wine – that sounded good.
I had no idea where to go and only a vague sense of how I got to this hotel room in the first place. And yet, I had actively made the choices that led me here. I had applied for a job teaching English in Paris. I had completed the paperwork for my visa and I had bought a plane ticket. I had reserved an inexpensive hotel room for one week in Levallois-Perret, an area on the outskirts of the city, to stay while I began work and searched for an apartment. I had taken a taxi from the airport to this address.
After months of preparing for my Parisian adventure, this moment should have felt like a triumph. I had finally made it! Everything came together!
But I didn’t feel like that at all. The planning had all been dreams and paperwork. This little room, on the other hand, was very real. Sitting on the edge of my bed, it dawned on me, for the first time, that I was completely alone in a huge foreign city. I had no home, no friends, no daily routine, a new job, and only a mediocre command of the language. I did not even know where to buy a piece of bread.
This story has a happy ending. I found a shop, I started that new job, and I spent the next two years exploring each and every breathtaking Parisian arrondisement alongside amazing, talented, and funny pals from all around the world. I loved my students and my life, and every day was a gift. But, I will never forget that moment in Levallois, when the full weight of my transition hit me like a big fat camion.
There is no doubt about it, transition can be tough. There is great comfort in routine, and a new baby, relationship, town, or job can leave us feeling insecure and anxious, as can the loss of a job, the end of a relationship, or the empty house that remains when the kids leave for college. And there are little annoyances that accompany transition too. I’ve moved quite a few times over the years, and I loathe the process of finding a new doctor, dentist, bank, and hair stylist. I love being a mother, but I miss sleeping in on Saturdays.
But, can transition also be beautiful? Can these periods of growing, changing, reflecting, shifting, and blooming be just as important as their resulting, settled state? After all, even a cheap and dark hotel room can hold all the promise of Paris.
We will be exploring the concept of transition all month at Connect Shore. Join us!