My Relationship With Things

For Christmas, my mom gave me a beautiful wine bottle stopper from Pottery Barn.  It looks vintage-y and fun and when I opened it...I cringed.

Another thing. What am I going to do with another thing?

The bottle stopper stayed in it's cardboard packaging for months after it bringing it back to Paris. I looked at it, I admired it, but I would not, could not, take it out of it's wrapping. 

Flash forward four months later, I was invited to a 100% expat dinner. All of the women there were at some stage of being an American expat abroad - one guest was married with two kids, 20 years into her life in France; two others were between 3 and 8 years along, married to Frenchmen ; another was awaiting French nationality, single; another had arrived only a year ago, in a relationship; and then there was me: 7.5 years in France, Franco-American, domestic partners (PACSed) with Copain.

We spoke Franglais all evening, bonded over common complaints, drank lots of wine and ate a dinner in a way that only expats could: potluck style - we each brought a dish to share.

After our aperitif (we do live in France after all), we sat down to the dinner table (a commodity that I have not had in years due to my tiny Parisian apartment). Immediately, I was taken with how homey the apartment felt - there was a rug, a comfy couch, picture frames, vases, and the table was set with beautiful plates, glasses and cutlery. All I could think was, wow - this girl is 100% here. She is committed to this place and she's (as far as I can tell), okay with it.

And I can't even take a bottle stopper out of its packaging.

You see, I'm deathly afraid of committing 100% to this place, and I guess I feel like the accumulation of things makes it that much harder to leave. What if one day, I want to leave and I have all these things. What will I do then?

As a child, I was a collector of things. I collected shoes (just to put on display!), lovely miniature perfume bottles, interesting photos from magazines that would decorate my wall, coins, rings, old ID cards, pointe shoes...and made a room that was 100% me. (It drove my dad nuts, but he still loves me).

I miss that me.

To be completely honest, I'm tired of being scared. I'm tired of not committing. I'm tired of this horrible limbo of being an expat. When do I throw in the towel and be 100% here? When do I stop being afraid of making here my home - with all of the things that I love around me? 

At the dinner party, we all talked about "going home" - home being the US. The guest who had been in France the longest said that it doesn't feel like home anymore; when she takes her family there, they visit like tourists. It felt sad to hear that - how could home ever be anything but just that? But that is the expats lament, I guess...the never-ending feeling that you are never 100% home.


  1. I see the wine opener is out! Go, you! I also googled PACS - how interesting! I had no idea this existed! Very neat : )

  2. I am looking at the photo of the vintage-y wine stopper with tears in my eyes. Xoxo

  3. The wine stopper is out - and I actually really love it (so pretty!)...but I'm sooo far from the 100% vibe that I'm searching for. Funny how we can even have the NATIONALITY of a place and still feel so incredibly torn. Story of my life. Anyways...yes, we are PACSed! It's possible for both hetero and same-sex couples in France as an alternative to marriage. (Which was perfect at the time we did it back in 2007).

    I already had tears writing this - no more tears! xo

  4. Oh wow, I can understand how difficult this feeling must be. I can feel that with Earl a lot. A few days ago, he casually said "it must feel great to have your family coming over" ... I think you are coming to a point in your life when you have to let go off some representations about things... Home is where your heart is, at least that's what they say... So maybe you should put your "luggage" down, get your things out, and get comfortable here, at home. After all, you can consider yourself lucky: you've got two countries that you can call "home"!

  5. yeah, I really want to get my luggage out...I want to paint a wall blue and hang picture frames and make it mine. I wish my two countries were just closer on the map...you know what's funny - whenever you talk about visiting your family on your blog, I think the same thing as Earl :-)


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