Madame had invited my parents and I over for tea for Sunday at 5. Except come Sunday at 5 and we were just leaving my parent's hotel. Late for tea with Madame; I am unbelievably my parent’s daughter.
This was the weekend my parents and younger brother were in town. There’s something lovely about actually showing my parents the experiences I describe—something special about bringing my parents to Sacre Coeur (forever my favorite spot in Paris) and having afternoon tea at the salon directly next to my phonetics building.

But while the visit became a manner for me to share my experience, it was also an opportunity to peek into my own mother’s childhood—a childhood that traces its beginnings to age 3.  My grandfather’s job as a British diplomat moved the family to Paris, a move that lasted roughly ten years until their return to London. Their family of four lived in an apartment just down the street from the Arc de Triomphe; I’ve always heard of the apartment, of my mother’s childhood—of course, as it’s so much a part of who my mother is today.

On the Saturday morning of their arrival, my parents led the walk along Paris’s embassy row, my mother pointing out the British Embassy in which my grandfather worked at and she would often have afternoon lunch in, the home in which the president lives in, the pavements my mother would play hopscotch on, the school she once attended and the exterior of the apartment she once lived in. 

We met with the parents of my mother’s childhood best friend, Sunday evening. They’ve known my mother since age six, calling themselves her “French parents.” How strange it must be for them to see her, 20 years later—a grown woman, mother and wife. It was beautiful watching my mother interact with her French parents, the three reminiscing over memories that date back some 40 years. They loved that my mother’s laugh has never changed, that her movements are still the same, that her personality forever remains. It’s touching to see a family recall my mother for traits I see in her now-- touching that the young Parisian girl my mother once was, is still a part of who she is today. 


In our definition of ourselves, how much do we carry forth as we grow? How much stays? How much changes?
I walked back in to my apartment building this evening, leaving my parents mid- decision between taking a cab or metroing back to their hotel. It’s strange walking back to my home separate from my parents.

There’s a year and half left until the real world pays full visit and it’s soon that Florida, my parent’s home, will no longer really be my permanent home.  It’s strange that the chapters between youth and adulthood seem to speed up. The changes within the four short years of our college lives blur all we understand as familiar, leaving us to make sense of our place among the new. It’s a search for definition that constantly refreshes throughout the course of our lives, yet it's a search that reaches no one conclusion. 

I wonder how much of an influence my six months in Paris will have on my own definition-- what experiences of my youth will follow into shaping the definition of my future. It’s these thoughts that I was left with as I turned in for the night, switching off my night lamp, blanketed by a mask of darkness. Bed time is awaiting; definition is for later. 

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