Six and a half years ago I came to France and fell in love with food. I specifically remember cutting up zucchini in the quintessential French-style kitchen with sunlight pouring through the tall windows behind me. I was 21, on my first big adventure, and very, very lonely. Had it not been for an incredibly hospitable couple that welcomed me into their family, I don’t think I’d be able to reflect on my first experience in France with such fondness. Despite riding the highs and lows- the excitement of following my dreams accompanied by such homesickness, there I was- cooking in France.
And without any forethought of the parallels, here I am, 27 years old, chopping up zucchini for dinner in France, yet again. This time, I’m completely alone and at this precise moment, that’s okay. I’m learning to carry “home” with me. I can see my day as a series of moments- witnessing an old couple walk steadily down the narrow road; practicing my French with the kind and patient woman at the etal du fromage; catching myself dance to a favorite song as I stroll through an ancient cemetery; not minding staying up late to have Skype dates with my boyfriend; and of course, indulging in pain au chocolat much too often.
It’s far from perfect or ideal. In fact, yesterday I was ready to leave. But it’s about pushing through and getting to the moments when I remember to see all of the beauty, no matter now I feel.
“Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.” Bell Hooks
So here’s to growing up, solo adventures, and being present in the full life that surrounds us each and every day.