I am wrapping up a full month of living and exploring in Paris. A dream I’ve wanted to do for what feels like forever. I have been saying for several years now that I want to spend a few months in a new city. Specifically, Paris, since I used to speak the language, and it’s a city I have visited a few times before. It feels a tad familiar for being on a completely new continent. And while I have so much to share about this experience, I know many of you are wondering why on earth I did this and how it all came about.
Why I Wanted To Spend A Month Somewhere New
I have always wanted to spend a month or two somewhere for quite a while now. In all honesty, I think about moving to NYC more than I think about anything else. But I just can’t seem to pull the trigger on it. I think part of it is the fear of leaving my life behind to start over. Plus, I own my place and selling it felt so permanent. And sadly, I can’t rent it out currently. I knew if I moved somewhere and hated it, coming back to Atlanta would mean downsizing for me probably. Plus, my income is so inconsistent with the job I have, that doing it always felt very scary.
So a month or two would be a good test case where I can experience a city I’ve always dreamed to live in. I could see if the grit and hustle of a bustling city are something I’d enjoy. It would just be me dipping my toes in. It would at least maybe satisfy the craving and hold me off for a while and shut me up about wanting to move.
My current job also allows me this flexibility and I am so thankful for that. So I dreamt of doing it. Working, living and exploring in a new city. And for me, the short list has always been New York City, Chicago, Boston and Paris. Cities I adore and feel familiar with. Why not? I know people in all these cities, they’re places I’d be thrilled to live in and that I know I already enjoy.
Easier said than done…
So many things kept me from actually doing this. The logistics of figuring it all out and the expense were big ones. But most importantly, it was the guilt of leaving my beloved Boston Terrier, Pork behind. Or figure out how to bring her along with me and would that have been even fair to her? Then as she grew older and developed some health issues, I started to fear leaving her for too long. Worried that she’d cross the rainbow bridge when I wasn’t home. I can’t tell you how many times my therapist and I talked about this. You can’t put your life on hold for an aging dog, or an aging parent. If you can do it now, do it. What if you’re waiting for them to pass and it ends up being 20 years down the road and you’ve been just putting things off. And now the opportunity is no longer there. Take it. Go for it.
I struggled with that.
I just kept putting it off. I finally thought 2020 was going to be the year I did this. I had put it in my mind that was going to really happen, even just for a month. Maybe even just NYC because it’s closer and easier. I really thought it was going to be my reality that year.
Then COVID happened.
Then Pork aged even more and I just couldn’t risk it. I cut it close on my April 2022 trip when Pork’s health took a turn within a week of returning from a trip to Paris with friends. Saying goodbye was the hardest thing I ever did. But then I knew.
It was time to finally do this.
With this new found freedom of not being responsible for a sweet little old lady anymore, I had to finally do the thing I had been talking about for far too long. There were absolutely no more excuses. I could not continue being the person who kept saying she wanted to do something and not do it. That’s not who I am. I like to jump head-in, but this was something I just couldn’t jump for. Now was the time. Period.
Initially, I thought I’d do New York City.
I thought about doing New York City. Hell I even thought about moving there. I had just visited in the fall and was reminded how much I love being there. I looked at Airbnbs for the upcoming months, and well, they’re expensive. And so is NYC in general. Everything is. The food, a stupid bagel, a cab ride. It’s…insane. And all the Airbnbs I kept finding were so not Airbnbs. They were people’s homes with their shit EVERYWHERE at outrageous prices. I just couldn’t do it.
One summer afternoon, I was sitting at the pool with my friend chatting about all of this. Sharing how I was a little frustrated that it felt like my dream would never become a reality. And it’s still not. I’m not moving to NYC and I’m not even spending time there anytime soon. Things took a turn when my friend pulled up her Airbnb app and started browsing monthly rentals in….
The Airbnbs are slightly cheaper, but are very clearly designed for Airbnb experiences and not someone’s dumpy home packed with crap. The cost of living is actually much more affordable than NYC, and well, it’s Paris. So that day I booked an Airbnb in the Marais neighborhood of Paris. My Delta flight was then locked and loaded. I couldn’t believe that I’d be spending the entire month of October in Paris practicing my French, eating croissants that only cost 1€ (yes, that is it) and walking absolutely everywhere.
I’m going to be honest though…
When I initially booked this, I felt as though I should’ve just done NYC. Sucked it up with the higher cost of living for just a month. But there was no going back now. I was booked and there were zero refunds. This somehow did make me just feel more lost once I booked it all. This was all booked in the haze of grief and feeling so lost as it was. This was just adding to it all.
When I envisioned spending a month in NYC, to me it meant I’d be working, making connections, and seeing some family and friends. I knew I’d be busy as hell in the Big Apple. Always something to do, someone to see. Plus, it’s a city I know so well and feel really comfortable in. But I decided on Paris. A city I kind of know I guess, but I barely speak the language and know no one. I mean the food at the grocery store isn’t even the same! What was I thinking?!
It’ll be fine…It was more than fine. It’s amazing that I can do this. I’m beyond fortunate that this is even within reach for me. And it’s not lost on me that this is a reality and something that I am capable of. However, when I booked this and leading up to my departure, I was slightly freaking out. And I’m a little embarrassed to admit it. But, it’s the truth.
I think this is exactly what I needed, though. A little life shake-up. NYC is like home to me. I feel like I belong and it’s easy (even though it’s hard and exhausting and sweaty). So maybe being alone and being forced to try new things and meet new people might just be the experience I needed in this time of my life.
I’m still processing everything I just experienced here in Paris. I feel like I may have some life decisions to make in the coming months. But now you know why and how this entire month in Paris all came to fruition. And thank you for coming along with me. It’s been the adventure of a lifetime and an absolute joy to share it with you.
Photo by Stefanie Villers