The thing about “living the dream” of quitting my old life and setting sail for greener pastures, is sometimes I still covet life in other places.
I love living in Nice. It’s gorgeous and sunny and I have quickly become used to the slow pace of life in Provence. But I find it hard to commit.
In all the cities I’ve lived in, and through my travels, I have never found a place that had everything. To be honest I think I suffer from a chronic case of wanderlust.
No matter how much I like whatever place I’m in, I still dream of living somewhere else, and panic sets in if I stay put for too long.
I have a thing for big cities. I love figuring out a new place’s quirks and hidden treasures, and I love the feeling of knowing a great city well.
I adore the feeling that everything you could imagine is happening around you.
During the seven years I lived in Washington, I had a deep longing to be In New York and by the end, I was spending two or three weekends a month there.
Similarly, over the past few months in Nice, the urge to go to Paris was growing so strong, I decided to buy a train ticket.
I’d been to Paris a few times over the years, just for a couple of days here and there, but never for any meaningful amount of time.
My first and most memorable visit took place the weekend of my 21st Birthday.
I was living in London at the time, and met up with a few friends to celebrate, one who was reeling from a bad breakup.
We indulged in a few too many bottles of rosé on the steps of Sacré Couer and I have a vague memory of throwing up on the hotel’s paisley carpet after repeatedly knocking on some poor old French man’s door insisting he was in my room.
We had planned to see all of the sights, the next day, and as we set off that morning I had never (and to this day have never) been so hung-over.
I was dubious about getting on the metro — I was still feeling beyond queasy — but stepped on board anyway and hoped for the best.
As soon as the doors closed, I kid you not, a full brass band started playing in our subway car, and if memory serves, the trumpet player was serenading my green hued face head on.
After disembarking, I proceeded to vomit my way through Paris.
My heartbroken friend and I made spectacular company in the city of love. She was crying as she held my hair back so I could puke in the gardens of the Louvre, and below the Eiffel Tower, and outside a few of Paris’ more adorable café’s.
Our friend Julia, the only French speaker in the bunch, who was suffering through “the most hung-over day of her life” as she recently described it to me, had to reassure concerned onlookers that everything was okay.
But I am older and ever so slightly wiser now, and I can hold my liquor marginally better, so I did not anticipate a similar scene.
My friend Kate met me in Nice and we took the 5-hour train journey together to explore the wonders of Paris.
If the sights were a bit of a blur that first trip, we saw the city in perfectly crisp bright fall sunshine this time around.
Paris is stunning in pretty much all light, but we were lucky to see the grand boulevards and the Seine sparkling in the warm glow of October.
And see the city we did. Kate is a marathon runner, and after her speedy five-mile tour each morning (long before I ventured out of bed), we hit the streets.
From the Eiffel tower in the west to Saint Paul in the east, we saw everything without ever ducking into a metro station. Stopping for plenty of verres du vin along the way to keep us going.
So Paris has now joined the ever-growing list of cities I’d like to live in.
Another place, which if I’m honest, has never held a prominent place on that list, is the Palestinian town of Ramallah, in the West Bank. But that is exactly where I am heading next.
Ramallah is where the Englishman has been living for the past two years, and while Nice is a lot closer to it than Washington, and being closer to the Englishman was a big part of the decision to move in the first place, its just not quite close enough.
After nearly six years of long distance, still having a number of seas between us doesn’t seem right, so I agreed to get on a plane and spend a month in Ramallah.
I am putting my efforts to understand the subtleties of French culture on hold for a few weeks to see what life in the Middle East is like… I’m not holding my breath as far as my Arabic skills go.