Back in Brittany: a musing of my mind

It is humbling to stand among a sea of passports. 

I see Malaysia, China, Italy, the United Kingdom. Across the way, a few French Bordeaux-red books line up for preboarding while the Spanish woman next to me asks which group has been called. 

My American blue book feels so small between my fingers, the whole country reduced to a collection of pages. It amuses me that the picture taken when I was 18 will serve me until I am 28.

I wonder what I will look like then. I presume the same golden hair will fall over my shoulders, and perhaps the cream I smooth under my eyes each night will preserve them. Only time will tell.

Introspection is unavoidable at the airport. So many people coming and going. You feel so small, so individual. Just an American-born body taking up seat 20E on this flight to France. 

I am pensive, boarding this flight, and more than I usually am. This flight will take me to France with a definitive end date. I will live the life I have nested into for six more weeks, and after, I will fly right back to Chicago for an indefinite timeline—an inverse of the exchange I am used to. 

It is hard to admit to myself that my time in France will be intermittently over. 

I have found real happiness here, among the language I’ve learned to love, and in the friendships I will forever cherish. I find comfort in the euhs and heins of people passing, to Rose at noon, and the smell of cigarettes wafting dans la rue. 

I dream in French. My eyes shifting under my eyelids through REM francais. My body lays here, heavy, like it knows it has found a natural resting place. Somewhere safe, away from everything that spells out comfort. 

One thing I know for certain; there is more to my French histoire. I know I will return, ready and willing to find permanence. 

Americans are loud, inconsiderate, and annoying. Yet I find myself keeping my differences with pride. 

I like standing out with my bright clothes in a crowd of cultivated black coats, hearing my voice speak their words just a step off-key, but everyone understanding me anyways. I love making small talk with those who sit and wait at the bus stop, giving them the correct directions because I know this city. I love saying no to cigarette offers and drinking my cold pint inside rather than outside with red fingers. 

I am the first to hate on everything American, but here, I feel pride in claiming this identity for the first time. Not for the virtues of the country I left behind but for the fact that it has made me who I am. I am here, a world away, and my Americaness has primed my eyes to see the little differences that mark France culture. 

It is a beautiful way to live, finding little treasures in the way other people live and embracing the parts that feel they have always been meant for you. 

Enchanted World. for my best friend, Amani.

There is no magic light that can cast away the world’s real darkness

but here, in the hallow of our enchanted world, 

we shine our light like a spotlight on the best angle of our faces.

Golden hour glow, and the sun that lives inside

the girls everyone is watching. 

There is no dissolution of sadness, 

but what comes as enchantment is the gravity of everything.

The black cat that crossed your path is just as earnest

as the woman who spoke to only you over the counter.

It is everything happening for a reason

because you know your life is just one long story. 

It is not a power, but the knowledge that everyone wants you

because they do, don’t they? If it came down to it. 

You live here with me, 

though no one else sees through our shared sepia filter.

You stay, 

saying all the things we know are more real

than the skin pulled tight over our bones. 

We stay here, two wives,

more in love than anyone who acts out the feeling with their bodies.

We are in love in the way we see the same world

through our same-colored eyes.

In the way we watch everyone watch us and whisper,

they just haven’t chosen enchantment. 


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