This is a subject matter I have been avoiding. Only my real friends know why I decided to leave Paris as a homebase for the beautiful city of Amsterdam. I never intended on this, but over the years as I spent a lot of time in Amsterdam I already felt in the back of my heart each visit that this would happen- eventually. Paris was the first city in Europe I visited so in many ways it was like love at first sight. It will always be my first home in Europe.

As I walk just down the street to grab groceries or quick coffee with the fresh air, yet a cool breeze with a bit of sun- I smile, because things here are simple. I can hear my thoughts, feel my feelings, take the time to be me, and more importantly take the time to process the problems in my life in a non chaotic way. I can breathe.

As many of you may know I am always taking 2-3 months off during the holidays to go home and be with my family and take a break from Europe to be back in the states. This year I had a lot of personal family problems come up and I just wasn’t myself when I came back. I had many amazing moments with my family and friends, but the problems had worn me out emotionally and I realized as a person I need rehabilitation in many ways from these moments.

Paris is a beautiful, beautiful city- I can never say that enough. But when looking for your calling in life, and a permanent place to call home a city has to be more than beautiful. For the past two and a half years I struggled with learning and keeping the french language, dating french men, getting used to living in a small flat but still paying LA prices, making real friends interested in me for me and dealing with work and professional procedures in a “french” way (aka being paid 45-60 days late for everything you’re doing).

Yet no place is perfect, and even those things I got used to. I love my friends in Paris. They are passionate, loving, heart-warming people from all over the world with different backgrounds who have been there for me in many stages of my expat life. I think some of them are for life. The people I want at my wedding, to meet my family and to be around my future children.

The thing that really broke me was the metro and the crowdedness of Paris… when you have 4-5 meetings a day or places to be, you have to take public transport. French people CAN be quite rude despite my friends and the younger generations knowing a little better. There is no personal space, your phone can be ripped out of your pocket at any time by hooligan children, people pack on the metro like it’s Tokyo, and have no regard for your body or being. I’ve learned over the years that I am a bit of an emotional sponge (literally), or of a better term- an empath.

Empath:
1. An Empath is a person with a preternatural ability to apprehend the emotional state of another individual.

I soak up energy like a sponge, bad and good. I finally realized my sometimes shit attitude and depressive times were coming from this. Paris is just too big of a city for me full of too many types of people with ranging energies. I am still half based in Paris for work, and it’s working pretty well, but I have noticed the difference in how I feel when I am back “home” (that feels nice to say) in Amsterdam. It’s like taking a really deep breathe.

All in all I moved for my mind and creativity. I have learned over the years I take something from each city I am in, but like many women in their early 30’s I’m searching for more- for substance, for a place that’s just like me, for a place I can really start my life, and for home. The older I get the harder it becomes to decide whether home is home (atlanta with my family) or if home can be this mystical place I discovered that I never knew existed for me (Europe).

My first experience as a tourist in Amsterdam, was stereotypical to say the least. Smoking tons of weed, drinking great beer, walking around feeling bad for the girls in the red-light district, and great fast food. It was fun but it wasn’t a place to call home or even consider to be home. Yet I remember leaving with a refreshed feeling after the party atmosphere faded. I ate at this amazing breakfast place owned by an elderly couple in their home/restaurant, there in the restaurant lived twin scotty dogs and the perfect eggs, with the perfect cup of coffee and perfect amount of breeze through the front door. Before I went back home to LA, I yelped the place and left a review- I’m never doing that.

My second and third experiences were group ones. I’m not good with girl group trips always so I found myself veering off alone in another world wandering around to neighborhoods with quite normal people where life seemed pretty slow. This was the place I fell in love with. I kept romancing the idea of one day settling down in a place like this, or Seattle and staying in a cozy open-windowed apartment with light working on a novel. It’s still a dream of mine maybe one closer than I realized.

The visits after that I saw the city for what it was and I felt good here. I’ve always been the kind of person that followed how I felt. It’s not good sometimes but I really believe even mistakes lead us to the right path (or in my case). Why not? Why not do what you feel in your heart. We may not know what tomorrow will bring, but if we don’t try we won’t know a lot of things. For now, I am trying to make one place a new temporary home and try it out, while keeping another close to my heart. <3

photos: marion lietout
@ disneyland paris