And finally, mentally prepared

Naturally, I packed too much. Which comes as no surprise given I’ve yet to master the art of light packing. And the fact that I’ve packed for six months of travel, three seasons of wear and a bajillion outfit- switches of clothing.

Washington’s Dulles Airport was quiet this afternoon—a pleasant experience given the intensity of my day. The day had been a whirlwind of goodbyes and see you laters. Of tears and hugs, of wishes well and advice from the many who too had spent a semester study abroad. And among the difficulty of separating from the individuals who have transformed my D.C. environment into home, I am once more reminded of my gratitude for those that make saying goodbye so difficult. The pieces I leave behind, however temporarily, are binds of friendships that will undoubtedly remain as I continue onwards for these six months ahead. And for it all, I am grateful.

There’s such a thrill to the rush of the rumble as the plane jerks along the runway, the force of the momentum as we soar into the blanket of darkness, the haze of the clouds glazing the twinkle of the night-lights shimmering below. How fitting everything seems from above; how the darkness of the night sky masks all, transforming the world outside the plastic of the airplane’s window cutout into an endless haze of black. There’s a sense of separation from the rush of life below, one that remains until the tremor of the turbulence jolts the plane along the course of Mother Nature’s own plan--  a reminder of how temporary of an escape it all really is. And it’s this thought that powers my landings, an understanding that as the plane hits the strip of the runway, I'm once more a part of something, a part of an environment, a part of life: a purpose for being one among those grounded below.

Purpose: six hours and 56 minutes from now, I too will have a purpose as I land into the Charles de Gaulle airport.


It’s purpose that will force me to tap into the French stored somewhere within the layers of my mind, to soak in the grace and class of the Parisians, to channel my curiosity of all around me into inspiration for my writing. Purpose is what will guide me to immerse myself into life as a Parisian, removing myself from the eyes of a tourist as I delve into my half a year of a life abroad. I plan to forgo any ridiculous desire to follow a strict regiment of healthy eating, an understanding that life in France would constitute a waste should I choose to avert to the power of the patisseries. I plan to return with an understanding of the culture I’ve grown up surrounded by and a French accent that will make my mother (who spoke to me in French until my 17th birthday) proud. I want to travel and experience, explore and appreciate. And I want to grasp all I can, fully living the adventure the upcoming six months have in store.
It was seven months ago that I was preparing for a summer abroad in Australia. Crazy, given it all seems as if it were yesterday. The experience left me with a perspective transformed by seven weeks of insight into a setting so distant, yet a lifestyle meshed between the similar and foreign. Australia left me with an understanding of differences among lifestyles and a desire to approach such differences in a manner that accepts without judging. It’s this lesson I take with as I proceed forward.

I’m seating aboard the Lufthansa flight (piloted by Continental, yet referred to as United. But like actually, quit messing with my head and settle on one carrier for the flight.). The flight attendants speak both English and French, in addition the English and French speaking passengers aboard (or lack of seeing as this flight is essentially empty. I’m one of the many with a full row to myself. Perfect seeing as the two seats next to me are occupied by my bag and coat.). I understand the French spoken aboard fluently, a true touch of comfort; while I’m venturing into a city so foreign, I come armed with the advantage of a largely fluent understanding of the area’s tongue.

Which, naturally, leaves me with the lasting struggle of my ability to speak the tongue. But the challenge of overcoming my embarrassment of the American accent that laces my French vocabulary, in addition to the fact that my thoughts race faster than my ability to speak French, is what will push me to uncover the roots of a tongue I once spoke with such fluency.

And so less than seven hours to go until the plane touches ground into the city of lights and romance, class and culture. Less than seven hours until the adventure of it all truly begins.

A bientot l’Etas Unis.

1 Response to And finally, mentally prepared

January 31, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Im sure this is just the start of many future beautiful blogs! But I can't wait to follow you along your journey Emma B.
Love you and so glad you landed safely

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