"so what are you going to do now?"
"are you staying here, are you going back to paris?"
if i make it one day without hearing those questions, i'm relieved.
i suppose i should explain though.
the last few years of my life were a hard-working whirlwind to get me to paris.
i got there.
then, paris was a whirlwind all of its own.
it was a like a movie.
it was like a dream.
it was hard and such a drama,
but i'd go back in a second.
25 people a year get in.
11 came to orientation.
at Christmas there were 6 of us left.
3 of us graduated.
insane is an understatement.
so, upon graduation i had endless possibilities!
what a wonderful problem to have.
i had offers in paris, london, barcelona and new york city.
i had an incredible opportunity to work as a photography assistant and stylist for a week-long project with this incredibly renowned london-bred, hong kong-based photographer for a marvelous and grand hotel opening off the champs elysees next month, and it was so so dreamy.
at nights, i would stroll the marais and the riverside with my dog,
and drink wine and laugh with my gay best friend.
i decided i would stay and try to make it work for another year.
i'd get more fluent in french, and if i could move up in a company and make a decent salary,
i'd stay longer.
maybe i would even date someone eventually.
so i extended my lease on my darling apartment,
and looked into renewing my visa past October.
i was scared and excited.
during those two weeks, i received unfortunate news that my grandfather was not responding to chemo.
they said a year.
two weeks later they said 2-3 months.
one week later, he was in hospice.
my grandpa is the single most greatest man i've ever known.
he was an entrepreneur, an armyman, a gambler, a ball player,
and the toughest gd, s-o-b you ever met.
twice he'd beaten cancer.
three times he had broken his back, the last time leaving him a quadriplegic.
a few weeks in the hospital and decided, 'nope- i'm gonna play ball and ride bikes with my kid', and got out of the hospital bed.
three years later he was racing dirt bikes and coaching t-ball.
he is the ultimate fighter, the ultimate example of mind over matter.
he has the kindest eyes and sly smile.
i've never heard him complain even once in my entire life.
he would do anything for his friends and family,
and man did he love jazz.
so, it was clear.
i had to go to chicago.
within a week's time, i had packed up my parisian life into two suitcases,
oliver in tow, and was on a plane to the USofA.
i was lucky enough to spend the last three weeks of his life with my grandfather.
it was a treasure.
it was hard watching such a strong man weaken.
cancer is a gnarly demon, and i hated seeing him in such pain.
but he was strong and sassy until the end.
on saturdays and mondays we'd drive down to the american legion and have lunch and a few manhattan's.
and by drive, i mean, he'd drive his jazzy 'hoveround' and i'd speedwalk/jog beside him down the interstate.
when we'd get to the bar, naturally he'd want to sit with his buddies, so i had the hover.
they served you ice in your wine and the chef wore a tank top and flip-flops.
the rest of the time, i spent providing 24hr nursing and home healthcare to my grandpa.
and having meals with his crass and sassy best friend Carmine.
Carmine thought i was starving myself because i wouldn't eat breakfast and dinner with them.
(breakfast and dinner were at 7am and 3:30pm)
when i told him i was used to eating dinner around 9pm,
i thought he was going to have a stroke.
SO many people and nurses and staff asked me if i would ever consider social work or nursing as a profession.
it was laughable. how ironic that after leaving 6 years of social work,
and moving to paris to pursue my dream,
i'd immediately be providing 24hr home health care.
no- i would not be returning to social work.
the time there passed slowly.
it was stormie and quiet and i missed paris.
the last week of his life, i barely left his bed-side.
he asked me to hold his hand and sing to him often.
my grandfather had a very peaceful passing,
and after, I stayed to pack up his home and help with all the funeral arrangements.
his services were so so lovely.
people came from far and wide to say goodbye and tell us the BEST stories.
one man knew my grandpa since their early 20s.
my grandpa was the best man in his wedding,
and his 61st wedding anniversary was the next day.
it was such an honor to see the life he lived and the people who loved him.
he always wanted live music, and for his funeral to be a 'party', and not sad.
my 8 year old cousin and i are his only granddaughters,
so we sang for him at his funeral.
it was a really unique experience,
and i'm just glad i didn't ball through the whole song.
and then, it was long overdue for me to go home.
i missed my desert homeland so bad.
i missed my friends and family.
i missed being tan.
i missed the sunsets so.
so for now, i'm home.
going from the most glamorous parisian life,
to immediately living in a nursing home in middle america for a month,
gave me so much perspective on life and the life i want to live.
i'm not opposed to big designers and certainly wouldn't turn down an incredible opportunity to go back,
but i also don't want to spend my 60s living in an apartment in a loud and over-crowded city,
working 80 hours a week and addicted to cocaine.
i want a life were i can put down roots in a creative and health conscious community.
i want a lil house with a yard.
i want to work in a creative design firm in the city and paddleboard on the weekends.
i want to do yoga and garden and take my dog to restaurants.
i want to drink delicious coffee and hand-crafted (gf) beers.
i want to be a short flight/drive from friends and family as their littles grow up.
so, i'm home for the holidaze, and then i'm looking to move to portland within a year.
i fell in love with it when i was there last summer,
and think the Pacific NW and i are gonna be best friends.
i'm excited to see what this next chapter of life brings.
i'm excited to adventure and make my own happiness.
i will always love and miss paris, and am thankful.
the grass isn't greener on the other side,
it's greener where you water it.
get out there & live the life you love!