My life has been rather hectic lately, and even though I still have had a lot of time at home, I’ve been rather exhausted and just felt like sleeping. Being immersed in another language does that, I guess. It’s weird, they always told us the first two months were the hardest, that after two months a magical barrier would break and everything would become easier, and I always laughed. I couldn’t fathom how it could all just suddenly work. Then, almost two months to the day after my arrival, the homesickness began to seep away. I started laughing again. I stopped panicing when someone spoke to me in French. I managed to get a few French sentences out that managed to make sense. I suddenly felt like January was too close instead of too far away. I can’t explain it, it’s just like everything has suddenly fallen into place.
During my down time, I’ve been doing a lot of reading (yes, in English, but I’m still reading HP in French and have purchased a couple of French magazines, so it’s not completely hopeless). The pile of books next to my bed is ever increasing (although my parents just bought my an e-reader and if the mail strike ever ends here, I’ll soon have it in my hands instead of a pile that’s threatening to overtake me in height) and I’ve revisted some old favourites (The Book Thief) and discovered some new ones (The Hunger Games). It was in reading ‘Elsewhere’, a book which fits into my slightly morbid interest zone of Pop-Culture Dealing With Teen Death and Afterlife, though that I discovered a paragraph which really jumped out at me:
There will be other lives. There will be other lives for nervous boys with sweaty plams, for bittersweet fumblings in the backseats of cars, for caps and gowns in royal blue and crimson, for mothers clasping pretty pearl necklaces around daughters’ unlined necks, for your full name read aloud in an auditorium, for brand-new suitcases transporting you to strange new people in strange new lands. And there will be other lives for unpaid debts, for one night stands, for Prague and for Paris, for painful shoes with pointy toes, and for indecisions and revisions. And there will be other lives for fathers walking daughters down aisles. And there will be other lives for sweet babies with skin like milk. And there will be other lives for a man you don’t recognize, for a face in a mirror that is no longer yours, for the funerals of intimates, for shrinking, for teeth that fall out, for hair on your chin, for forgetting everything. Everything. Oh, there are so many lives. How we wish we could live them concurrently instead of one by one by one. We could select the best pieces of each, stringing them together like a strand of pearls. But that’s not how it works. Life is a beautiful mess. – Elsewhere, Gabrielle Zevin
I was sobbing by the end of the paragraph (in context, it’s the very definition of bittersweet) but other than the obvious meaning (uh, the book is about a Heaven where everyone gets younger until they’re eventually born again. And no, I didn’t just spoil that for you, it’s on the blurb), another meaning stood out to me.
Thus far in my exchange, I’ve had my head in other places. I’ve been thinking of Australia and America and England. I’ve been thinking of other lives and other things I could be doing if I hadn’t jumped on that plane to France. I’ve been counting down the seconds until I can go and do those other things. This paragraph made me stop and think. I took it out of the context of ‘other lives’ (dude, I’m not that morbid) and exchanged it for ‘other times’. Afterwards, I couldnt stop the following from continuously running through my head:
“oh, wait a second. There will be other times for me to go to America and to travel with friends and to live spontaneously. And there will be other times for me to have Sci-Fi marathons with my best friend and have baking parties and even just be in the same timezone. And there will be other times for me to eat tacos while laughing with my parents and to have take away of a Friday night and to have our little tv watching traditions. And there will be other times for 9-3.30 school days and subjects I’ve chosen and teachers who speak my language. And there will be other times for me to speak English and to revel in understanding and being understood. And there will be other times for me to travel to other cities and countries and continents. Right now, I’m in France. There will be other times for me to experience everything else I want to experience, but at this time, I’m sixteen and living the opportunity of a lifetime. There will be other times for me to do everything on my list of Things To Do Before I Die, and more, but right now, I can’t take the present for granted.”
frangipani princess xoxo